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Southern Alberta crops producing low yields as ‘dismal’ harvest begins

Click to play video: 'Southern Alberta crops producing low yields as ‘dismal’ harvest begins'
Southern Alberta crops producing low yields as ‘dismal’ harvest begins
WATCH: Southern Alberta’s hot, dry summer has led to an early sped up harvest, with some farmers already beginning to combine weeks ahead of last year’s start date. As Erik Bay tells us, that weather is impacting producer’s yields. – Aug 2, 2023

The first combine passes of this year’s harvest aren’t giving Sean Stanford the returns he was hoping for.

“The yield is about half of what we’d expect from a normal wheat yield, so it’s down a lot,” Stanford said.

Farming near Magrath, Alta., Stanford says spotty rain only provided about three inches of precipitation this growing season.

According to him, those conditions are similar throughout most of southern Alberta – to the detriment of producer’s dryland crops.

“There is certain pockets where guys said they’ve had enough rain that they’re actually going to get a decent crop, but they’re few and far between,” Stanford said. “There is a lot of people I’ve heard from – other farmers in the area – that it’s going to be a pretty dismal harvest season.”

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The province’s latest crop report shows as of July 25, just 29.2 per cent of crops in the south region were rated in good to excellent condition. That’s well below the five-year average of 52.3 per cent.

Click to play video: 'Vulcan County declares agriculture disaster due to drought conditions'
Vulcan County declares agriculture disaster due to drought conditions

“Yields are way down from what they should be, but they are up from what I expected,” Colten Bodie said from his farm near Stirling, Alta.

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Despite the tough results, Bodie considers himself fortunate.

His grain operation also faced dry conditions this year, moving his harvest up about three weeks earlier compared to 2022.

“This year we started harvest Jul. 18, last year we started Aug. 12,” Bodie said.

Bodie says winter moisture helped his crops.

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“We did have quite a bit of snow in the stubble and that really carried us through because… through the entire growing season, there wasn’t a lot to work with,” Bodie said.

As harvest continues and producers move onto different crops, the early results aren’t expected to change.

“The canola, the barley, everything in the area is going to be down on yields for sure,” Stanford said.

Leaving farmers to make the best of a dry year.

Click to play video: 'LNID’s farmers nearly out of water and hope for their crops this season'
LNID’s farmers nearly out of water and hope for their crops this season

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