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Prairie farmers worried about harvest

Lisa Varano, staff writer

September 5, 2010 — Wet weather is slowing down the harvest in the Prairies and damaging crops. The fall could bring a new concern.

A back-to-back rainy spring and summer was a huge setback for the harvest in Saskatchewan, Alberta and parts of Manitoba. As fall approaches, Prairie farmers have a new weather concern: Frost.

Without a sunny fall, farmers who are nowhere near harvest will “be threatened with frost -- early frost -- and the quality of their crops will be in danger,” says Doug Faller, a Saskatchewan farmer.

The frost has already appeared in some areas. “Unfortunately, we have seen some light frost out through ... central Alberta and into northern Alberta,” said Canadian Wheat Board weather and crop analyst Stuart McMillan on The CWB Report, a radio show, at the beginning of September.

Many farmers are sturggling with low yields. “The impact of the excess water has been apparent in some areas,” McMillan said.

And quality has also been affected. Crop diseases are an inevitability given the amount of humidity, moisture and wet conditions, he says.

Across Saskatchewan, farmers have been hit hard by the wet weather. Less than 10 per cent of Saskatchewan crops have been harvested using combine equipment, the province's Ministry of Agriculture reported in early September. By this time of year, 30 per cent of Saskatchewan crops are usually harvested.

Soaking rain in Saskatchewan is once again in the forecast. The latest round of rain will be heaviest in south-central Saskatchewan, where 40 to 70 mm is expected to fall by Monday evening.

Isolated non-severe thunderstorms for southern Alberta and southern and central Saskatchewan were also in the forecast on Sunday.

It has been feeling like fall in Alberta, where Calgary struggled to crack the double digits on Sunday. Saskatchewan will cool down to the chilly teens on Labour Day Monday.

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