LETHBRIDGE, AB – A serious lack of rainfall over the past few months continues to have a major impact on local agriculture producers.
Dryland crops in southern Alberta have taken a beating from not just the dry conditions, but the extreme heat and now issues with grasshoppers in some places.
Ken Coles with Farming Smarter in Lethbridge County says this has been a bad drought year.
“In some areas it’s actually been complete crop failure,” says Coles. “You don’t get worse than that. It hasn’t been the greatest going here, at least in southern Alberta. The extent of the heat we’ve had this year and lack of precipitation has been sort of above and beyond.”
Coles says for some dryland farmers in the region, conditions haven’t been this bad in almost 20 years.
Meanwhile, the other problem is insects, especially grasshoppers as mentioned. Coles says many folks were concerned grasshoppers would become an issue given the summer we’ve been having.
“The dry, hot weather is actually something that helps trigger a population explosion and we’ve certainly seen that this year. The problem is that the infestation is so bad, but the crops (some dryland) aren’t necessarily worth saving,” said Coles.
To put things into perspective, the Lethbridge region has recorded just 25 mm of total precipitation since June 1st, a fraction of what is normal. A typical June to mid-July precipitation cycle would see about 125 mm.
Coles stresses that with exception of last summer, we’ve really bee in a drought cycle in southern Alberta for the last five years.