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Alberta farmers welcome average growing season

Overall, farmers are much more upbeat than last year, after hot and dry conditions decimated crops in 2021.
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Crop yield conditons across the province are expected to be average or above average due to good weather and precipitation conditions throughout the summer so far, say experts. FILE PHOTO/St. Albert Gazette

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This year crops across the province are expected to produce average or above average yields, and experts are saying that is a welcome change from the heat dome and decimation of 2021.

Alberta's canola crops are average, with some areas faring better than others, said Karla Bergstrom, executive director of Alberta Canola, as some weeks growers were a bit behind in getting seed in the ground.

“It's like Goldilocks and the three bears. In the Peace [region] we were too cold and wet, and so they were almost a month behind in seeding,” Bergstrom said.

“In the south they were too cold and too dry, and in the central area it was kind of just right.”

The weather hasn’t been too hot or cold this year, Bergstrom said, with rain coming in the right amounts at the right times.

“We had some timely rains towards the end of June, and I think that was really a saving grace for the south.”

The Alberta Crop Report from July 26 stated there are above average conditions for provincial crops and yield rates, with 74 per cent of major crops rated to have good or excellent growing conditions, compared to a 10-year-average of 66 per cent. Yield expectations are at 110 per cent above the 10-year provincial average.

June rainfall has made a big difference this year, the report read, and last year only 20 per cent of crops were rated as good or excellent, with yield expectations only at 60 per cent of the 10-year average.

But crops aren’t perfect across the province. Areas of the Peace region, northwest, east, and west have experienced a dry July, which is moving them back to below long-term soil moisture levels.

In the Edmonton region, dry conditions have been reported for the last two weeks, but yield expectations are 96 per cent of the 10-year average. It is the only area of the province with yield expectations below the 10-year average, but only slightly.

Robert Semeniuk, chair of Alberta Pulse Growers, said the areas in the south of the province that were in a drought at the beginning of the season are faring much better, but the dry conditions at the beginning of the season may have delayed growing by a few weeks.

“A lot of crops were seeded into absolute dust and sat there for months until it came up with the rain,” Semeniuk said.

Overall, farmers are much more upbeat than last year, Semeniuk said, after hot and dry conditions decimated crops in 2021.

“The vibe is a lot more positive, just because they physically can see a crop there. And I think they're actually going to have something to harvest instead of having to abandon acres,” Semeniuk said.

But even though farmers are more upbeat this year than in the past, Semeniuk and Bergstorm both said the season isn’t quite over yet and things could still go sideways.

Hail storms this late in the season could do real damage to crops, Semeniuk said, and if there is an early frost, some crops could still be damaged or lost.

“Until it's actually physically in the bin, there is always a risk,” Semeniuk said.

Jennifer Henderson, Local Journalism Initiative reporter

About the Author: Jennifer Henderson, Local Journalism Initiative reporter

Jennifer Henderson is the Local Journalism Initiative reporter for Great West Media based in St. Albert, Alta.
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