Crop conditions in Western Canada deteriorated through July and August due to severe drought which affected crop growth and development. Now rainfall is creating more concerns as farmers harvest their crops. The combination of drought and now wet harvest weather in some regions have significantly affected the size and quality of the western Canadian barley crop this year.
Statistics Canada projected barley production in their August 31 report at 7.8 million tonnes based on satellite imagery from July. However dry, hot weather persisted well into August and many in the industry believe Canada’s barley production will likely end up closer to 7 million tonnes.
The historically small crop as well as significant quality issues will make selecting malt barley a challenge for the Canadian maltsters and exporters. South of the border the US barley crop is also struggling with North Dakota and Montana also severely affected by drought conditions.
In Alberta, barley harvested acreage is struggling to get to 40% complete and yields are averaging below 40 bushels per acre. Cool temperatures and wet conditions are now stalling harvest progress. Quality issues are widespread with light test weight, thin kernels and high protein count. All regions will register well below average yields.
In spite of recent rains across many parts of the province, harvest continues to progress quickly with barley harvest across Saskatchewan now 50% complete. The effects of the drought this summer were most damaging in the southwest part of the province. In the last 3 weeks of August, rainfall has caused harvest delays with farmers using the down time to dry their cereal grains. There have also been hail events in the past three weeks that will impact barley production.
Barley harvest is mostly wrapped up with about 95% in the bin. Yields are variable ranging between 20-80 bushels per acre. Little to no fusarium damaged kernels in samples so far. Some downgrading is expected on unharvested crops from the recent periods of rain, although the moisture was welcome in many areas to recharge the soil.