Skip to main content

Dry temps speed up harvest in Alberta but degrade soil moisture levels


With the harvest in Alberta completed and ahead of schedule, largely thanks to drier, warmer weather this season, provincial forecasting indicates soil moisture levels have degraded and may impact next year's crops.

As of the last crop report for this season released on Oct. 11, the province estimates around 99 per cent of all crops have been harvested — two to three weeks ahead of the five-year average for the second growing season in a row.

According to the Alberta Crop Report, this harvest is even ahead of last year, with only 0.3 per cent of major crops in swath and 0.5 per cent remaining standing earlier this month.

"Alberta's producers have faced a number of challenges over the years, but through their hard work and dedication, continue to show the immense value of the agriculture sector and the contributions this industry makes to our economy and communities," said Nate Horner, agriculture and irrigation minister.

On average, the provincial quality for hard red spring wheat, canola and dry peas were above their five-year averages. Durum wheat and oats saw lower qualities, while Alberta malt and feed barley were on par with the five-year average.

Approximately 94 per cent of hard red spring wheat and 78 per cent of durum wheat received grades in the top two tiers, while 34 per cent of barley is eligible for malt and 54 per cent was graded as top-tier feed.

Livestock feed supplies are estimated to last for the winter in Alberta, with the crop report saying enough straw is being baled up to supplement the feed.

Dry conditions and cool temperatures dominated the start to the 2022 growing season for most of the province, the crop report said. The only exception was the Peace region — encompassing Fairview, Falher, Grande Prairie and Valleyview — where a wet and cool spring prevailed.

By the end of May, there was no longer an excess amount of moisture anywhere in the province. According to the crop report, June is the wettest month in Alberta and this year that month was wetter than normal and followed by above-average temperatures through to the end of the season.

That dry spring helped flea beetles and cutworms get into canola, which then flowered later in the year once high temperatures returned. Spring wheat was largely unaffected.

Despite precipitation in June and early July, the abnormally warm temperatures deteriorated soil moisture reserves. Compared to the start of this season to the end, the amount of surface soil moisture declined by nine from 49 per cent.

The province anticipates that figure will rebound to an "acceptable level" before the next growing season.

All crop quality in South region — including Strathmore, Lethbridge, Medicine Hat and Foremost — was better than their five-year averages, except for durum wheat.

The Peace region had the second-highest yields, with all but oats and dry peas which were lower, but the lowest pasture conditions.

"While qualitative rankings improved for the provincial feed supply, conditions in some areas remained poor to fair due to heavy grazing last year and challenging conditions over the past few growing seasons," the Alberta Crop Report said. Top Stories

Stay Connected