Rocky View County (RVC) is forecasting lower yields than in 2022 due to the adverse conditions which impacted local productivity throughout the growing season.
“The lack of moisture early in the growing season combined with diminishing soil moisture reserves significantly impacted the yields for many agricultural producers,” confirmed RVC’s Agricultural Services Officer, Laura Poile. “Many crops experienced heat stress during the month of July as rain showers were spotty throughout the County.”
The impact of these adverse weather conditions were felt more acutely on yields in the east side of Rocky View County, she explained.
“Areas on the east side of the County are impacted the most with a minimum amount of rainfall throughout the growing season,” Poile stated. “Rainfall was spotty throughout the County as one area could have received up to three inches and others less than a half inch.”
“Tame and native hay yields are substantially lower than usual and pasture conditions are extremely poor,” she added.
As stated by the County earlier in the summer when it contemplated declaring a local state of agricultural disaster, that contemplation was mainly motivated by the poor results in local pastures.
“We are teetering on that agricultural disaster stage,” Jeff Fleischer, RVC acting manager of agricultural and environmental services, said back in late July. “About 23 per cent of our total agriculture is at that disaster stage, and we have got about 40 per cent that is kind of just one step away.”
To the south of Rocky View County, Foothills County declared an agricultural disaster in late June, citing severely depleted moisture levels and the extreme heat conditions experienced earlier this spring.
Poile confirmed Fleischer’s earlier assessment continued to remain accurate here in early September.
“The lack of moisture early in the growing season combined with diminishing soil moisture reserves significantly impacted the yields for many agricultural producers,” she said. “Many crops experienced heat stress during the month of July as rain showers were spotty throughout the County.”
The adverse weather conditions have been particularly hard on local cattle producers this year, said Poile, with many having to cull their herds due to a shortage of feed or bring in feed at high cost from greater distances away.
“Impacts were substantial this year in comparison to last year; especially in pasture and forage situations,” she said.
According to the Alberta Agriculture and Irrigation’s crop report from the first week of September for Region 2, which includes Rocky View County, harvest is progressing well in most areas, although, it states, “widespread smoke and changing weather has slowed down maturing and progress in parts of the region.”
The report also states about 90 per cent of the region's second cut of hay has already been cut and baled. Yields are at 1.3 tons per acre, slightly below the 5- year average of 1.4 tons per acre.