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Snow continues to slow Alberta harvest

Snow continues to slow Alberta harvest

Some producers haven’t been in their fields since August

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer
Farms.com

The early arrival of winter weather in Alberta has left some producers on the sidelines waiting to complete harvest.

Growers have only completed about 40 percent of the provincial harvest, Alberta Agriculture’s latest crop report says. That number is well below the five-year average of about 79 per cent.

And it doesn’t look like Mother Nature will give farmers any reprieve in the short-term.

“I woke up to more snow on the ground this morning,” Lynn Jacobson, a grain producer from Enchant, Alta., and president of the Alberta Federation of Agriculture, told Farms.com today.

Temperatures in Enchant will not reach into the teens until next Tuesday. The mercury could rise to 13 C that day, The Weather Network forecasts. Until then, temperatures will remain between 3 C and 11 C with sun, cloud and rain all in the mix.

“We’re going to need a good stretch of dry weather before we can continue harvest,” Jacobson said. “The longer we’re kept out of the fields with snow on the ground, the more chance there is of grain having quality issues once we are able to harvest it.”

Other growers are playing a similar waiting game.

The early snow has kept Boyd Bender, who grows cash crops on about 300 acres in Lacombe County, Alta., out of his combine.

“There’s been next to no harvest in the area for about five or six weeks,” he told Farms.com. “We’re about 25 per cent completed with our harvest, and we did all of that in August. We didn’t harvest a single acre in September and haven’t been able to get out at all this month yet.”

The weather in Lacombe County will not rise over 10 C until next Tuesday. Temperatures will remain between 2 and 10 C until then, with sun, cloud, rain and wet snow possible.

Bender echoed Jacobson’s thoughts on potential quality issues, adding that yield may also suffer because of the snow. If that happens, growers may be forced to put in insurance claims, he said.

“I think you might see a trigger on (insurance claims) with some farmers getting early payments,” Bender told Farms.com. “Farmers would rather have the crop than an insurance payment, but (these situations are) why growers buy crop insurance.”

Farms.com has reached out to Agriculture Financial Services Corporation for an update on weather-related insurance calls.

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