Agriculture Leads Economic Recovery

Agriculture Leads Economic Recovery

Michelle Pinon
News Advertiser

‘Agriculture Leads Alberta’s Economic Recovery.’

That was the headline of a government press release on Sept. 28. It featured optimistic comments from Alberta’s Agriculture Minister Dreeshen. “Alberta has a proud history of resilient, innovative farmers, food processors, and ranchers who have overcome some of the toughest conditions.

From our world-famous Alberta beef to high-quality hard red spring wheat, Alberta’s agriculture sector is an economic highlight during these tough times. They are well-positioned to compete internationally and to feed the world. Regardless of the challenges thrown at our farmers and ranchers, they will persevere.”

It also reported, “Harvest progress is estimated to hit a new record high in Alberta with farmers harvesting more than seven percent above what is normal.”

However, “In certain northern parts of the province, cool, wet weather caused seeding delays and affected crop development, where farmers struggled with excess moisture. Those areas have an expected yield below the five-year average.”

Kenney said Alberta was on track for a record-breaking year in agriculture — a much-needed bright light in an otherwise gloomy economy. Reports point to unprecedented bumper crops in grain, oilseeds, and pulses, and high canola and wheat prices, will be a boon to farmers, the premier said. “Yes 2020 is a tough year, but there are some real signs and reasons for hope and optimism, and at the centre of that is Alberta agriculture,” Kenney said.

Crops are estimated to be worth $26.8 billion this year, Dreeshen said, up 11 percent from last year and substantially higher than normal. Yields are particularly high in southern and central Alberta.

Closer to home, the four municipalities in the region have had varied results when it comes to this harvest.

Lamont County Agricultural Fieldman Terry Eleniak said it’s been a “very, very disappointing” year. There’s been major flooding in the municipality. As a result, there were many acres of land that went unseeded, and a portion of seeded acres in low lying areas that did not develop due to wet weather conditions. “It was a very wet summer.”

Harvest is between 90-95 percent complete. Eleniak said there is a lot of drying with crops coming off. As well, there is a lot of second growth and varying stages of development that will affect the quality of crops, and seed cleaning may or may not be required. In terms of yields, canola can be anywhere between 1.8 and 15 bushels per acre with wheat and barley between 17-35 bushels per acre.

Earlier this spring Lamont County declared an agricultural disaster, but has yet to receive any type of financial relief from the province to help offset some of the losses. Infrastructure has also been affected on a wide scale with millions of dollars in damage to the county’s infrastructure. “It’s imperative politicking take place and there has to be some sort of assistance from the province or the federal government.”

County of Two Hills Agricultural Fieldman Elden Kozak said, “Harvest is certainly progressing well. I would say producers in the County of Two Hills are 80 percent complete. Yields vary all over from really good crops in the eastern parts of the county, to very poor yields in the west where there was excessive rain and overland flooding. Quality is average, and lots of the early harvested crops were a little tough and required some aeration or drying to bring moisture down. I would expect harvest to be wrapped up in the next 10 days.”

Beaver County Agricultural Fieldman Aimee Boese said, In particular to Beaver County, this fall has had drier conditions, with lots of sunshine and wind, which has helped with the harvest. Crop quality is variable when compared with the five-year average and some crops are coming off the field tough, meaning that drying will be needed. The forecast for the next 10 days looks favorable and should allow for producers to get additional acres harvested.”

Darwin Ullery, Director of Agricultural and Utility Services, said producers have had an “awesome fall” weather-wise. He expects most of the harvest to be wrapped up this week. He estimates that 70 percent of it is already complete.

As far as yields, Ullery said barley ranges between 70 and 100 bushels per acre and wheat is between 50 and 75 bushels per acre. He thinks canola will be down a bit lower this year. Overall, things are looking pretty good, and fingers crossed the weather will continue to hold for another couple of weeks.