Prolonged droughts, snowfall, and other extremes of weather brought about by global warming have played havoc on the agricultural sector globally. And in Canada, climate change is already hammering the economy to the tune of billions of dollars. “It is becoming increasingly clear that in some regions, the harvest will not be able to be completed this fall,” Jeff Nielsen, the president of the Grain Growers of Canada, wrote in a letter to Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay on Thursday.
Alberta Agriculture Minister Oneil Carlier is poised to speed up if necessary crop insurance to help out farmers facing an uncertain harvest. “While we’re optimistic for a better harvest weather over the coming weeks, we’re also ready to implement measures to streamline (Alberta Farm Services Corporation) processes, if necessary, so that producers spend less time worrying about insurance, and more time bringing in this year’s harvest,” said Carlier.
P.E.I. farmers who didn't sign up for AgriStability insurance are being given late access to the program to help with the frost damage in June. The late access will allow perennial farmers hurt by the abnormal amount of late frost to sign up. Those affected included blueberry, strawberry, apple and some vegetable growers, who had fairly significant losses.
The early arrival of winter weather in Alberta has left some producers on the sidelines waiting to complete harvest. Growers have only completed about 40 percent of the provincial harvest, Alberta Agriculture’s latest crop report says. That number is well below the five-year average of about 79 per cent.
Snow, unseasonably early, has delayed the harvest and left many farmers frustrated in Canada’s prairie provinces. Farmers in southern Saskatchewan had most of their crop in, but for those in northwest region, the weather has wreaked havoc. As of September 21st, only 17 per cent of the crop had been combined, according to the crop report from the Ministry of Agriculture.
First, there was snow on June 26. Then came heat warnings and dry days throughout July and August. When temperatures dipped down to -5oC overnight on September 22, Chris Oram of Mark's Market Farms knew 2018 was one for the record books. "I'm going to remember it as probably one of the hardest ones we had yet to date," Oram said. It was all hands on deck in the hours before the frost, pulling up tomato plants and cucumbers, "scrabbling around trying to save whatever we could."
It’s been a hard year for apple growers in Nova Scotia. Between 40 and 50 per cent of apple crops were lost in the province this year, according to the Nova Scotia Fruit Growers’ Association. Larry Lutz, the association’s president, said that below-freezing temperatures in June played a big part, and the hardest-hit crops were in areas at low elevations.
The effects of the killer June frost are starting to be felt around the region, particularly in the Annapolis Valley. Some farms have lost more than half of their crop, which translates into thousands of dollars. For the first time since 1970, the Boates family won't be offering U-pick at their farm this fall.
If frost does occur, the information below will give you some details to help assess any potential impact to crop yield and quality. The full impact of frost will not be obvious immediately. Several warm days may be required for the extent of leaf and crop damage to be evident. The magnitude of frost injury will be dependent upon how low temperatures went, time of exposure, and the stage of crop development.
An exceptionally dry growing season has farmers in Alberta concerned that their harvest will take a big hit. Although provincial crop quality is projected to be strong across the board, dryland farmers in the south will be particularly affected by the dry conditions, the Alberta Federation of Agriculture cautioned. Conditions in the region are so severe, that some producers have turned to insurance to make up for their losses.
An especially dry growing season means some southern Alberta farmers are bracing for a potential hit to their harvest. "My yields are going to be down for sure," said Larry Woolliams of the 9,000-acre Woolliams Farms near Airdrie, which grows malt, barley, peas and canola. "Between the hail and the drought, it's kind of all over the map."
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