Rains and thunderstorms have certainly improved conditions over the prairies in recent weeks. However, a quick glance at the federal government's Percent of Average Precipitation chart for April 1 through July 4 shows the likelihood that more than 50% of the prairies has still received less than average precipitation over this period. This chart points to the largest dry areas having received less than 40% of normal precipitation for this period seen in southern Alberta as well as the northern tip of the Alberta Peace Region.
Alberta Agriculture's weekly Alberta Crop Report shows precipitation coverage of the last week favoring the western areas of the Central Region, the North West Region and, to a lesser extent, the North East Region. Heaviest accumulations are seen to the east and west of Edmonton, having received as much as 115% to 150% of average precipitation since April 1, while a similar accumulation is seen near Calgary.
Looking at the government's estimate of crop condition since the first estimates were released on June 18, most crops have responded favorably overall. This good-to-excellent rating has improved 3.2 percentage points for spring wheat to 73.3%, 6.4 percentage points to 74% for oats, 12.6 percentage points to 71.4% good to excellent for canola and 3.2 percentage points to 69.5% good to excellent for dry peas. Also showing an improvement over the two-week period is barley, that has seen the good-to-excellent rating increase 2.7 percentage points to 75.2% good to excellent, although this rating has shown modest weakness over the past week.
The durum crop, situated in the southern areas of the province, has missed this recovery as the Southern Region faces a lack of moisture, with the government estimating 18% of the Southern Region's surface soil moisture and 24% of the region's subsoil moisture as poor. The durum crop was rated at 37.1% good to excellent, down from 37.9% two weeks ago.
The attached chart shows this week's good-to-excellent ratings for select crops, while compared to the ratings released for the same week over the past five years. Current ratings for wheat, canola and peas are the lowest in four years for this period, while current rantings for oats and barley are slightly higher than the ratings shown for this period in 2017.
At the same time, late-summer weather will play a substantial role. As seen on the attached chart, the good-to-excellent rating as of June 29, 2015, ranged from 24.9% for canola to 40.7% for peas, as shown by the short light blue bars on the chart. Of the five crops shown, the final provincial yield for both barley and canola in 2015 exceeded the previous five-year average, despite the weak ratings shown near July 1.
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Cliff Jamieson can be reached at email@example.com
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