By Collin Gallant
Southern Alberta Newspapers
The quality of crops in southern Alberta has plunged due to continued drought-like conditions.
The Alberta crop report, released Friday states that only about one-third of this year’s yield is considered at good or excellent condition, and though the rating is up slightly from last week, it is only about half the five-year average rating.
Hit hardest in the Medicine Hat, Lethbridge, Foremost and Strathmore areas was barley (29 per cent good to excellent), flax (30.6 per cent), and durum (33.8 per cent).
Dryland yield estimates are also about three-quarters of last year’s figures.
The situation follows weeks of intense heat with very little precipitation across the south and east-central portions of the province.
Producers in the Oyen and Coronation areas are reportedly considering simply turning to silage or bailing poorly performing crops.
Adding to the situation in the south, populations of diamondback moths, lygus bugs and gophers are reported as over threshold.
Alberta Agriculture reports for the local region that 14 per cent of crops are in the bins with another 9 per cent swathed.
This summer’s first cut of hay is virtually complete and shows good to excellent quality. Preliminary average yields on dryland is estimated at 1.4 tons per acre (dryland) and 3.2 tons per acre (irrigated). Second cut haying operations are underway, with 20 per cent of dryland and 70 per cent of irrigated land complete.
Pasture and tame hay conditions are 80 per cent poor.
That situation extends into southwest Saskatchewan as well.
That province’s ag ministry states that 100 per cent of crop and pasture land around Maple Creek, Leader and Shaunavon is short to very short of moisture.
Areas across that region received some rain last week but drying down is occurring in large sections.