Parts of Western Canada are mired in the worst drought since 1988. Heat and lack of rain has caused irreversible production loss that will increase if dry conditions and lack of rainfall continue in coming weeks. The excessive heat in the southern region of Alberta and the Southwest region of Saskatchewan has caused the barley plants to shut down. These two regions traditionally produce over 2 million tonnes of barley, and it is estimated that 1.5 million tonnes of production is already lost.
In southern Alberta, prolonged periods of heat and lack of rainfall are taking their toll on all crops including barley. Provincially, daytime temperatures continue to average over 30 degrees Celsius, which are well above normal, and nighttime temperatures remaining in the 20 degrees Celsius range which is not giving crops much relief. Central and northern Alberta had a good beginning to their crop year with above average soil moisture and low temperatures which promoted good crop growth. Currently the Central and Northeast regions are still expecting average crops. However the Northwest region of the province (Peace River area) has suffered from hot temperatures and lack of moisture. This forecast for continued hot temperatures and limited rainfall in coming weeks throughout the province will add stress on crop development.
In Saskatchewan there has been a general lack of rainfall this season combined with hot temperatures which have impacted crop development. A few areas in the northern tier of the province received some rainfall and are progressing well. In the central areas of the province, crop conditions are variable. Some areas have received rains and look reasonably good, however many areas have had very little precipitation and crops are in trouble. In the south west part of the province, crop are in very poor shape while the southeast requires rain very soon to ensure an average quality crop. In general the hot temperatures in Saskatchewan are advancing crop growth too quickly and not permitting the plant to fill properly, leading to irreparable crop damage.
Manitoba has also suffered from excessive heat and a deterioration of moisture reserves and crop conditions. The record-breaking temperatures and lack of rain events have already negatively impacted crop yields. Like the other provinces, many crops are maturing faster than normal and pod filling on the barley will be affected by the heat and lack of moisture which will create stress on crop growth.
Overall, the barley crop in western Canada has been significantly impacted by the record heat and lack of moisture. StatsCanada last barley crop production from June estimated the crop at 12.0 million tonnes, however as of today we expect the barley crop will be closer to 10 million tonnes, and there are no significant rains prior to month end, barley production will slip below 10 million tonnes. The smaller than previously forecast barley crops will result in prices for both feed and malt to stay strong in coming weeks. Currently Canadian feed and malting barley prices are at a significant premium to the other exporting countries, and these premiums will remain in effect as Canada deals with a smaller barley crop and looks to cover malt barley requirements for Canadian maltsters.