The magnitude of precipitation in the Canadian Prairies this fall season is staggering. Just when crops were ripening, here came the rain -- and snow -- over a large portion of the region. The only area that I've found in checking with growers where the precipitation was light enough that harvest got taken care of quickly was in southeastern Alberta. Some of that was due to a generally drier-than-normal year anyway. Otherwise, we're dealing with truly Brobdingnagian precipitation. (That term is from Gulliver's Travels, by the way. It refers to out-of-the-ordinary large dimensions. I think that term fits here.)
Latest crop reports from Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba were in October. A wrap-up summary will be posted at the end of November. As I looked through these summaries one more time, I was impressed by, again, the very heavy precipitation totals.
Here are some selected descriptions:
Alberta: Total rainfall since mid-August is well over 150 millimeters to 200 mm in some areas. That equates to 6 to 8 inches of rain during August through October. Excessive soil moisture has disrupted harvest especially in the Peace, North West, large areas of the North East and some areas of the Central Regions.
Saskatchewan: Producers are indicating that the soil will have to freeze before combines are able to get back onto the land in many areas. Some crop will likely be left out over winter. Rain and snow has lodged standing crops. Bleaching and sprouting are causing grade loss. Crop damage is mainly attributed to weathering due to too much moisture. Lodging and waterfowl are causing crop loss. Grade loss is due to bleaching and sprouting. Rural municipalities have put road bans in place in some areas. The ground is going to have to freeze before harvest operations can continue.
Manitoba: Crop yields are generally at or slightly above five-year averages. However, lower-than-average yields for various crop types were reported in some areas, largely due to extreme weather events including excess moisture, wind resulting in lodging and stalk breakage, and hail. Quality for the majority of crop types is average to below average; wet harvest weather and disease pressure were the main causes for downgrading. Wetter fields may not be harvested until the ground freezes, provided significant snow does not fall by then.
The last two weeks have definitely been drier. However, it's still doubtful that enough drying took place to allow all the wet spots to firm up enough to hold equipment.
As for the forecast, it features again light precipitation, less than 10 mm (half an inch) during the next week. That should help the very-delayed harvest to continue.
Bryce Anderson can be reached at email@example.com
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