2020 harvest season lives up to low expectations on some northern Alberta fields

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2020 harvest season lives up to low expectations on some northern Alberta fields
It's the first day of fall and farmers are still busy out in their fields getting crops off. It's an easier harvest than in 2019, but it doesn't make up for a wet summer in the Edmonton area. Lisa MacGregor reports. – Sep 22, 2020

After such a wet summer, expectations were low for this year’s harvest on some northern Alberta fields.

Leduc County farmer Joey Bendolitis said it’s one of the worst seasons yet.

“This is ugly. It’s bad but we’ve known it was going to be poor since June,” Bendoritis said.

Bendoritis has been making the most of the drier temperatures this fall at least.

“The weather has been on our side, I’ll say. The last two weeks things have dried up. A lot of the mud has disappeared, so it’s a lot nicer.

“We’re not fighting to get the harvest off this year in the mud like we were previously last year,” Bendoritis said.

WATCH: Weather presenting problems for some Alberta farmers

But the yields are way down, which is what Bendoritis expected two months ago when everything was too wet.

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“The canola we’ve done is about 15 per cent of average and the wheat we’re on the last few days has been about half of our average crop.”

It might be the first day of fall Tuesday but this year’s harvest season in Alberta all depends on where you are.

“If you go 20 miles east of [Leduc County], things were a lot dryer, a little better soil and they are having average yields out there. They’re doing well,” Bendoritis said.

READ MORE: Some Alberta farmers bracing for worst harvest in 18 years: ‘The damage is done’

In north central Alberta, farmer John Guelly is already done harvesting. He’s been farming for 27 years and says this season was more like salvaging what was left of his canola fields for next season.

“Harvest here was really short and sweet. We had about three quarters of our crop written off by crop insurance because of excessive rain this year, so we only had about three-and-a-half days of harvest so we were actually finished Aug. 31,” Guelly said.

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“It seems we’re maybe more diverse than usual in Alberta — everything all over the map,” Guelly said.

According to the most recent Alberta crop report posted last week, producers in the northern half of the province have had challenges with excessive soil moisture during the season.

“Harvest was progressing early in the week before cooler conditions and light rain halted the operations, especially in the northern and western parts of the region which received about 5 mm of precipitation,” it stated.

“Regionally, harvest advanced an additional seven per cent for major crops from a week ago. Some harvested cereals in tough condition need to be dried.”

Over the next few weeks, Alberta farmers will hopefully be done harvesting and tilling, then they’ll take their crop to market and hope for the best next spring.


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