Barley Harvest Progress Update – October 13, 2022
The 2022 crop harvest in western Canada is wrapping up, ahead of the average pace in Saskatchewan and Alberta, while Manitoba’s harvest is about 2 weeks behind normal. Generally, warm and dry weather at the end of August and through much of September on the Prairies allowed farmers to pull off much of this year’s crop without significant delays or quality issues resulting from poor weather, except in parts of Manitoba where a late start coupled with some rains and high humidity during harvest slowed progress. Precipitation in Saskatchewan in mid-September kept producers out of the fields for a few days, but many welcomed the rains after several weeks of dry weather. Some areas of the Prairies saw hard frost in mid-September however cereal crops were sufficiently advanced that neither the precipitation nor the frost is expected to have had a significant negative effect on malt barley quality. The barley harvest is now mostly wrapped up on the Prairies with a few pockets in east and west central Saskatchewan yet to be completed.


Harvest progress continued to advance in the last week of September and early October with favourable weather conditions. Provincially 96.3% of the crops had been harvested as of October 4, similar to last year and well ahead of the historical 10-year average of 76.7%.  Well, below-normal precipitation in September allowed producers to work in the fields almost uninterrupted. Most of the barley has been harvested with yields estimated by the Government of Alberta (ASFC) at an average of 74.8 bushels per acre (4.02 tonnes per hectare), above the StatCan estimate of 71.5 bu/acre (3.85 t/ha) from their September 14 report. The absence of precipitation or significant frost events during harvest will help with the supply of good quality malting barley quality this year, much needed after last year’s drought. On September 20 ASFC reported the central region of Alberta had “significantly the highest barley quality region of the province with nearly 50 per cent expected at malt grade”.

While the dry harvest allowed producers to take the barley off in good condition, concerns are mounting over dry soil conditions in Alberta going into the winter. Precipitation will be needed this fall to help ensure fields have sufficient soil moisture for seeding in the spring of 2023.

Table 3: Alberta Surface Soil Moisture Ratings as of September 27, 2022
Source: AFRED/AFSC Crop Reporting Survey


The weather continued to cooperate for Saskatchewan producers through the end of September and into early October with over 90% of the barley crop combined as of October 3. The central and eastern regions of the province still have some crops to harvest, largely canola and flax, with most of the cereals complete. While overall average barley yields are significantly improved over the 2021 harvest, the southwest and west central regions struggled again this year with very limited rainfall. SaskAg pegs barley yields at 62.0 bu/acre or 3.34 t/ha, just above the 10-year average of 59.2 bu/acre (3.18 t/ha). StatCan estimate of barley yields is slightly higher at 64.1 bu/acre or 3.45 t/ha. Similar to Alberta, there is concern over soil moisture with cropland topsoil moisture in Saskatchewan rated as 28 per cent adequate, 41 per cent short and 31 per cent very short. Precipitation would be welcome ahead of winter. 


As of October 11, harvest progress for all crops in Manitoba is 79%, approximately 2 weeks behind the 5-year average of 89% complete by this time of year (week 40). Periodic rains and high humidity have slowed harvest progress and some crops were harvested tough to damp and had to be artificially dried. Killing frosts arrived in much of the western side of the province on the morning of September 22 and much of the province saw frost on September 27 but the damage is not expected to be significant. Unharvested cereals have seen some bleaching and staining due to the wet weather, especially those in the swath, with some quality downgrades in cereals expected. While much of the malt barley was harvested before the moisture in September, there are reports of some chitting in fields that were wet, often a carryover from the heavy rainfall earlier in the summer.

Harvesting AAC Connect at Wanesa, Manitoba, August 28, 2022. Good harvest weather this year allowed producers across the Prairies to get their crops off with limited interruption, benefiting malting barley quality.


Canada Barley Production & Quality Outlook
On September 14, Statistics Canada released their 2nd model-based crop production estimates for 2022 using satellite imagery to estimate yields. According to these latest figures, production of cereals, oilseed and pulses in Canada are up over 36% compared with last year when western Canada suffered a major drought. According to Statistics Canada, farmers chose to seed more wheat, in particular, this year with an area up 2.1 mln acres (838,000 hectares) or 12.8%, as well as more oats, which was reflected in lower seeded and harvested areas of other crops, with barley down 15% from 2021. But with significantly improved yields of 68.4 bu/ acre or 3.68 tonnes per hectare, barley production in Canada is projected at 9,427,840 tonnesan increase of 35.5% from 2021 and above the 5-year average of 8.871 mln tonnes.   

Table 5

In terms of output by province and region in Canada, Alberta barley production reached 4.83 mln tonnes, followed by Saskatchewan at 3.587 mln tonnes, Manitoba at 664,000 tonnes and eastern Canada seeing production drop this year to 322,000 tonnes. Despite a generally good growing season and adequate rainfall in a large area of the Prairies, the dry conditions in western Saskatchewan and southern Alberta pulled down average yields this year, with all of Canada estimated at 71.1 bu/acre or 3.83 t/ha, although some areas of central Alberta and eastern Saskatchewan saw exceptional yields this year.


Overall quality indications from the 2022 malt barley crop generally look good with low average moisture content, excellent germination energy, limited disease presence and very little pre-harvest sprouting.  The protein content is higher than average, while plump kernels and test weights are below average. The dry harvest in western Canada helped replenish short supplies of malting barley, however strong demand for feed grain will mean the malting industry will have to compete for supply with the livestock sector again this year.

CDC Fraser plot trial, St Albert, Alberta
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The CMBTC does not offer advice or recommendations with respect to production or marketing decisions to the barley industry, and this information should not be construed as such. The information contained in this report is in part contributed by a third-party provider.