Dry conditions result in early harvest in central Alberta

Halfway through September 2023, harvest is in full swing for producers across Alberta. Farmers say low moisture has resulted in fewer crops in the bin. Jasmine King has more.

Halfway through September, harvest is in full swing for producers across Alberta. Farmers say low moisture has resulted in fewer crops in the bin this year.

However, farmers across central Alberta are trying to stay positive as they monitor the upcoming forecast.

“We’re gambling on the weather all the time. We don’t have to go to Vegas, we’re rolling the dice every day here,” said John Guelly, owner of JJ Farms.

Across the province many producers are currently harvesting, including Guelly, who said his farm had a strong start to the season due to the weather in the region.

“This year we had a lot more heat early on, so our crops really got a jump start to get going, but the problem was there was no moisture to help it grow. It got to a point where it just ran out of water,” said Guelly.

The Canadian Federation of Agriculture (CFA) said in western Canada this year, harvest is ahead of the five-year average and that crops may finish earlier as many producers saw less rain than in normal years.

“It was a dry year and early harvest with really disappointing yields in many cases,” said CFA vice-president Todd Lewis.

“There were some surprising yields, but overall just not enough moisture to have a real good crop.”

Another cloud over farmer’s heads is the reoccurring smoke that has blanketed the province. Although it did help protect crops from the heat at the beginning of summer, it’s now reducing the hours farmers are out in the field.

“We have shorter daylight hours and the sun isn’t as powerful. So we end up with this situation where if there’s heavy smoke cover, the crop won’t dry down. Not unusual to see lower temperatures at night and high humidity,” said Lewis.

Guelly has experienced similar problems with smoke during his harvest this year.

“We’ve had a lot of humid nights and we’ve got to wait for the crops to dry out in the morning before we can combine. The smoke has been slowing that process down and reducing the amount of hours we can put in every day. We can’t get started as early as we’d like,” he said.

Guelly has also finished with his canola yield and will be back out in the next few days to finish the rest of his wheat harvest if he can avoid the mud.

“We can get back to some of the spots that we had to leave in the wheat and barley because it was just too wet to get in there. We just couldn’t get in with the equipment because the soil was too muddy.”

© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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