Alberta farmers dealing with difficult harvest

By Troy Gillard (Twitter: @Troy_Gillard)
October 11, 2018 - 2:52pm Updated: October 12, 2018 - 8:12am

A coalition of farm groups is warning the Alberta government to be ready to respond quickly to an expected poor harvest.

"Team Alberta" is collaboration between Alberta Barley, Alberta Canola, Alberta Pulse Growers and the Alberta Wheat Commission.

As of Oct. 10, it was estimated that the amount of harvest completed for Alberta’s major crops included 26 per cent of canola crops, 57 per cent for both wheat and barley, and 34 per cent of pulses - leaving approximately 7.8 million acres unharvested overall.

Team Alberta says current conditions are than in 2016 when weather caused many acres to remain unharvested.

“Farmers need an early and clear indication of what the next steps might be in dealing with severely downgraded and high moisture crops,” said Jason Lenz, Alberta Barley Chair. “Agriculture Financial Services Corporation (AFSC) needs to make prompt decisions to deal with claims and communicate information to farmers in a timely manner.”

Many of the crops are being harvested wet, Team Alberta says, which is testing growers’ abilities to dry product to retain some quality, which adds to production costs.

“To add to the problems of farmers without grain dryers, some grain buyers with drying capacity have reportedly stopped accepting grain as they are at capacity,” notes Renn Breitkreuz, Alberta Canola Chair.

Alberta Wheat Commission Chair Kevin Bender says much of the wheat crop left in the field will be downgraded to feed, even after drying, resulting in losses of up to $240 million from milling quality.

“We remain hopeful farmers can get back to harvesting soon but 2018 will be a major hit to the bottom line,” says Bender.

Team Alberta is reminding producers that resources are available to help farmers manage the added stress that comes with a difficult harvest, including and the Alberta Health Services Mental Health Help Line at 1-877-303-2642.

(With file from Team Alberta media release)

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