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Alberta farmers hope for late frost

Alberta farmers hope for late frost

The wet and cool growing season delayed crop maturity 

By Mary MacArthur

 

Each morning, Humphrey Banack looks out his kitchen window for signs of frost.

If everything goes right, he can expect a bumper crop on his Round Hill, Alta. farm.

“I don’t think we’ve ever seen these kinds of crops with this yield potential. We’ll see if that translates into what comes into the hopper,” he said to Farms.com.

But the crops are about 14 to 17 days from reaching maturity.

In northern and central Alberta, a combination of excess rain and cool weather has set crop maturity behind.

The 15 inches (38 centimetres) of rain this season at the Banack farm is about 40 per cent more than average, he estimated.

But it wasn’t the excess moisture that caused the most problems. Rather, the lack of heat during the summer really set back crop maturity, he said.

In nearby Edmonton, Environment Canada recorded only one day above 30 C (86 F) this summer. That high occurred at the end of May.

“It’s been the lack of heat. We haven’t seen the growing degree days,” said Banack, who expects much of his crop won’t be fully mature until Sept. 10.

“If we’re being realistic, it will be a challenge to get the crops off without frost damage,” he added.

Some areas of the province were warned to expect frost in the last week of August.

A widespread frost before the crop matures will cost Alberta farmers millions in lost income. A hard frost will shrink the kernels, reduce yields and downgrade the value of the crop.

“It’s been a lack of heat that has put us behind the eight ball,” said Banack.

When harvest begins, Banack expects much of his crop will need to go through the grain dryer, adding another cost to his operation.

“It’s been a challenging year out here for everybody,” he said.

Alexandrum79/iStock/Getty Images Plus photo

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