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Hot, dry summer leads to suffering crop yields

Posted on November 9, 2023 by admin

Southern Alberta Newspapers

As the snow flies, crop and hay yields paint a poor picture in the region.

Farm yields in drought-stricken southern Alberta are one-third less than the five-year average according to the Alberta Crop report.

That estimate, after a hot, dry summer, comes as harvest of major crops was compete across the Medicine Hat-Lethbridge-Strathmore and Foremost regions on Oct. 3.

That translates to dryland yields across the wide region of 25 bushels per acre for spring wheat, 31 for barley, 19 for canola, 32 for oats and 23 for dry peas.

Yields compared to average in other regions range from 85 per cent in central Alberta to 115 per cent in the northwest.

Alberta Agriculture doesn’t publish region hay yields, but stated in the early fall that the provincial per dry acre average was 1 tonne on each of two cuts this summer.

The final crop report on Oct. 17 stated that with pasture conditions at only 18 per cent good, ranchers had put cattle onto harvested fields sooner that usual and one third of provincial forage reserves were showing shortfall or deficit. Feed grain reserves showed one-fifth deficit, and 65 per cent of the hay supply considered adequate.

Soil moisture is considered 38 per cent poor and 44 per cent fair heading into the fall.

Yields in southwest Saskatchewan also suffered through a dry, hot year.

Dry alfalfa acres yielded just 640 kilograms on average and greenfield at just more than 1 tonne.

Crop yields averaged just half the provincial average, but no breakdown was immediately available, and just more than 10 per cent of hay and cropland is considered to have “adequate moisture level heading into winter.”

That has sent producers looking outside the region to secure winter feed for cattle.

“Producers are now anticipating an increase in their fall cereal acres in the hopes of ensuring feed availability next year,” the report states.

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