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Alberta alerting government to $3 billion in unharvested crops

Team Alberta is alerting Alberta Agriculture and Forestry officials to over $3 billion in crops that remain in the field to ensure government agencies are prepared to respond promptly to unharvested acre claims and consider all options to help farmers deal with a difficult harvest.


October 18, 2018
By Team Alberta

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“The conditions at this point in the fall are worse this year than in 2016 when weather caused many acres to remain unharvested in Alberta,” said D’Arcy Hilgartner, Alberta Pulse Growers Chair. “Team Alberta is working to help ease the burden on farmers by initiating proactive discussions with government officials who are in a position to help farmers.”

As of Oct. 10, it was estimated that the amount of harvest completed for Alberta’s major crops included: 26 per cent of canola, 57 per cent of wheat, 57 per cent of barley and 34 per cent of pulses, with approximately 7.8 million acres unharvested overall.

Many of the crops are being harvested wet, which is testing growers’ abilities to dry product to retain some quality considering the challenging situation and also adds additional production costs.

“For growers who have access to grain drying or aeration equipment, there is an additional cost to use of those tools that would not be as prevalent in drier conditions,” said Renn Breitkreuz, Alberta Canola Chair. “To add to the problems of farmers without grain dryers, some grain buyers with drying capacity have reportedly stopped accepting grain as they are at capacity.”

“Much of the wheat crop left in the field will be downgraded to feed, even after drying, resulting in losses of up to $240 million from milling quality,” said Kevin Bender, Alberta Wheat Commission Chair. “We remain hopeful farmers can get back to harvesting soon but 2018 will be a major hit to the bottom line.”

Harvest progress is up nine per cent from early October, and provincially 47 per cent of major crops have now been harvested, according to Alberta’s latest crop report. However, when comparing harvest progress over recent years where the five year average for this time is 82 per cent harvested, 2018 has been the most delayed in all regions.

Despite this, the forecast for improved weather in the coming weathers could advance harvest significantly. The rain received across the province has been beneficial to fall seeded crops, and 56 per cent of the crops are rated good. Soil moisture has also improved as a result of the rain. The full Alberta crop report and regional breakdowns are available online.

Meanwhile, Team Alberta wants to also share resources available to help producers deal with the challenging harvest.

Team Alberta wants to remind our fellow producers that we are in this together. Harvest is usually a stressful time for farmers, but the stress is compounded this year by the pressure of not knowing when or if the crop can be combined since snow started falling in early September.

Resources available to farmers to help manage the added stress include Six Things You Can Do To Stay Resilient This Harvest Season at Domore.ag, and the Alberta Health Services Mental Health Help Line at 1-877-303-2642.


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