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Heat spell, dry season hurting western Alberta crops

The extreme heat and lack of precipitation is being felt on farms across Alberta, and there's a high probability of it hurting this year's yield. 

The quasi-drought is noticeable south of Red Deer and gets even worse south of Calgary, where many regions were already short of moisture as far back as last year. 

That left farmers planting in dusty ground this spring, and barring a meteorological miracle, a lot of those crops won't mature in the summer. 

"This is weather we're used to in August," Gladys Ridge farmer Leroy Newman said. "We've never seen it in June like this."

On Newman's farm, thousands of acres of hay, wheat, barley, peas and canola have taken a beating. 

Some seeds haven't yet germinated. 

"I don't know if you could justify even cutting (what's there)," he told CTV News Thursday. 

On Leroy Newman's farm, thousands of acres of hay, wheat, barley, peas and canola have taken a beating.

The latest provincial Agricultural Moisture Situation Update said many crops may be experiencing early signs of moisture stress.

"Currently," the late April report reads, "moisture reserves are extremely low across many areas and timely rains are more important now than ever. Many areas have received well below normal rainfall, a condition that persists since at least Aug. 1."

"We've had a couple times of rain this year and it's just not enough to sustain a crop where there's no subsoil moisture," Newman said. "The soil is usually like a big sponge: it soaks all the moisture and holds it in for these dry heats waves. We just haven't had any reserve for the last four years."

"A lot of areas in Alberta and Saskatchewan are into our third or fourth year of normal than drier conditions," Todd Lewis with the Canadian Federation of Agriculture said. "It's frustrating. There's not much you can do as a farmer if it doesn't rain."

One bright spot for producers is that commodity prices are currently high, which means there is still money to be made. 

But with increasing overhead costs on farms, this Alberta heat spell could be felt in Canadian cities soon enough. 

Less production typically results in higher prices being passed down to the consumer. Top Stories

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