According to the most recent crop report, farmers across southern Alberta are ahead of schedule with over 80 per cent of crops in the ground.
After a dry winter and beginning of spring, conditions were shaping up to be another dry growing season.
Luckily, the second half of May delivered a blast of moisture across southern Alberta, which was a relief to farmers who have been battling dry conditions for several years.
“We’ve been very, very dry for the last five years,” Stephen Vandervalk with Western Canadian Wheat Growers Association said about his farmland near Fort Macleod and Claresholm.
“Now, last year was an anomaly. We actually had a very nice crop last year, but the previous four years was probably, you know, three, four out of the top 10 driers years we’ve ever had.”
Data released by Alberta Agriculture and Forestry as of May 10 shows pockets around Calgary that are facing one-in-25 year lows, when compared to long-term normals.
As Ralph Wright with the Alberta Climate Information Service (ACIS) explains, there’s an area in Vulcan County that’s short a year’s worth of rain.
“If you go back and look at the full last four years, in aggregate, we’ve got some areas that are at one-in-50 year lows for precipitation,” Wright said.
“Some of these areas might be down 400 or 500 millimetres in total precipitation … they’ve lost about a full year of precipitation over the last four years.”
Luckily, Alberta farmers are resilient and every year — no matter the conditions — find a way to adapt.
“Every year, we plant a crop, and we create revenue from a crop that we grow. And that brings new money into the economy,” Vandervalk said.
“I think people need to realize that agriculture is one of the very few industries in the world where we create wealth from nothing.”