Hot, dry conditions challenging southern Alberta farmers
June 12, 2023 By Top Crop Manager
Crops in southern Alberta that should be green are turning brown. With little to no measurable precipitation since mid-April in areas south of Calgary, some farmers are already predicting crop losses.
As reported by Global News, according to the June 6 Agricultural Moisture Situation update a warm, dry fall and spring has failed to recharge soil moisture leaving many areas facing once in 50-year lows for this time of year.
“They are dying essentially. It’s something that we’ve never experienced before. We’ve had dry conditions later in the season but to have it at the end of May, beginning of June like this is unprecedented,” says Stephen Vandervalk, a fourth-generation farmer in southern Alberta and the vice-president of the Western Canadian Wheat Growers Association.
“We are out a third of our crop as of today, for sure, and every single day it’s just nose diving. Every day now we are probably losing 5 per cent of our yields, so if we don’t get rain for another week, then half a crop, maybe, is in the cards,” Vandervalk says.
Adding to the problem: grasshopper infiltration.
“We are trying to spot spray areas because otherwise what happens (is) you will lose your entire crop. Zero. Bare to the ground,” Vandervalk says.
He added the only thing saving Alberta now from the catastrophe the province experienced in the 1930s is better farming practices.
“Farming techniques have changed so much that if we were experiencing what we have in the last six years, 30 or 40 years ago, southern Alberta would be a dust bowl,” Vandervalk says.
“For the lack of a better term, we are on the road to zero production here in this area south of Calgary to about Fort Macleod.”
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