While drier conditions made for a fairly smooth harvest across much of the southern Canadian prairies, the 2017 harvest chapter will go down as a very different story in the books of producers in central and northern parts of Alberta.
According to the provincial crop report published on Friday, only 59 percent of the overall crop was harvested in the northwest region of Alberta as of October 17th, with less than half of the canola harvested, due snow and rain delaying progress.
The five-year average for the northwest, which includes Barrhead, Edmonton, Leduc, Drayton Valley, Athabasca, is 89 percent. (Keep in mind the five-year average already includes some very challenging and delayed harvests over the last few years.)
Harvest in the northeast region — Smoky Lake, Vermilion, Camrose, Provost — was estimated at 74 percent complete, versus the five-year average of 92 percent.
Up to six inches of snow flattened standing cereal crops in northern areas last week, meaning “virtually all cereals are now being harvested tough and will require drying.”
Quality has also taken a hit, with 69 percent of hard red spring wheat in the northwest region grading in the top two grades versus 86 percent two weeks ago. Only 61 percent of barley in the northwest is now grading number 1 compared with 86 percent two weeks ago.
Provincially, yields are 10-15 percent less than last year and 5-10 percent below five-year averages.
Across the provincial boundary to the east, harvest in the northwest region of Saskatchewan was 95 percent complete last week, according to Saskatchewan’s weekly crop report. The northeastern region of Saskatchewan was at 96 percent, with the southeastern, southwestern and east-central regions all at 99 percent combined, while the west-central region was at 98 per cent.