Crop prospects looking good, say officials
Despite the worst drought in decades south of the border, most of southern Alberta’s crops have been doing well, say officials.
Jane Fulton, Agriculture fieldman for Mountain View County, said that although there have been some challenges this growing season, such as sporadic flooding and hail, the crops are in above average condition.
“Cool and wet early season conditions led to some (producers) having a slow start,” said Fulton, “however, with the warmer weather in July and at the beginning of August, crop staging has caught up with long-term averages.”
She added that hay has been a significant challenge because of frequent thunderstorm activity.
“So while yield volume is good, quality will be tough to achieve this year,” she said.
Fulton also said that it is too early to predict the quality of cereals and oilseeds at this point in time.
Neil Whatley, Crop Specialist for Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development, said that Red Deer County is doing fairly well as far as the crops are concerned.
“That whole area is doing well,” said Whatley. “The crops are looking really good. Moisture has been good and the heat has been fine.”
He added that there was a fair amount of fungicide applied in July due to all the precipitation.
Whatley said that while everything is maturing at an average rate, and producers are looking at average- to higher-than-average yields so far, nothing is set in stone yet.
He said that there has been some hail in the district, but not more than average.
“There was a pretty big hail event in Three Hills and through the Didsbury area two and a half weeks ago, but those areas usually do have more hail than average,” he said.
Meanwhile, now that the Canadian Wheat Board (CWB) has been dissolved, producers are responsible for marketing their own grains once they have been harvested.
Rick Istead, General Manager of the Alberta Wheat Commission (AWC), said that there are support systems in place for those who are having issues marketing their crops.
“We’re working with Alberta Agriculture,” said Istead, “which has developed a website that helps producers deal with this transition from a wheat board monopoly to an open market situation.”
He said that the CWB provided a great service over the years, but for those who want to maximize their return, they now have that option, especially considering the drought issues down in the States.
“This organization is being funded by producers,” said Istead. “They’re investing their crop dollars into this organization.”
He said that the AWC was created to help farmers bring new technology to the field, help them with marketing and developing markets, and making sure they have relevant, timely information.
He added that Alberta Agriculture has taken a lot of initiative “and what we’re encouraging producers to do is check out their website. We also encourage them to contact us if they have any questions.”
AWC is trying to minimize the angst that some farmers may be facing, he said.
“In many ways,” he said, “we’re trying to clarify some confusion and refer them to the specific grain handlers.”
He said that the AWC is there to help producers get through the transition and build their networks.
The AWC also cautions producers on entering into agreements and contracts, he said.
“It’s really important to read the fine print,” he said. “It can be confusing or misleading if you don’t read into the fine print.”
If you would like more information about the AWC, check out its website at www.Albertawheat.com,
The Alberta Agriculture website mentioned above can be found at http://www1.agric.gov.ab.ca/$Department/deptdocs.nsf/All/sis14099.