Quality of Western Canadian malting barley 2016 - Growing and harvesting conditions
Growing and harvesting conditions
There was a wide range of moisture regimes present in Western Canada in the fall of 2015. The primary feature was a substantial difference between the soil moisture situation in western Saskatchewan and Alberta and the eastern areas of the Prairies. The western areas of the Prairies were coming off of a drought in 2015 and dry soil moisture levels were reported throughout the region. The exception was a portion of central Alberta, which had received additional rainfall during the fall of 2015. The soil moisture situation in the eastern areas was mostly adequate to surplus. The main concern in the eastern regions centered on the potential for planting delays if winter precipitation was above normal. Fortunately for the eastern growing areas, the winter of 2015-16 was mild and drier than normal. The northern growing areas of Saskatchewan were the exception as this region received normal to slightly above normal precipitation during the winter months.
Dry and warm conditions during April and early May of 2016 resulted in rapid planting progress which exceeded the both the normal pace and the rapid progress of the 2015 crop year. Nearly 60 per cent of the barley was planted by the second week of May, which was well ahead of normal. Some of the driest areas of Alberta delayed seeding due to dry moisture conditions, which slowed barley plantings through the end of May.
Normal temperatures and above normal precipitation characterized the 2016 growing season across Western Canada, with most of the western dry areas receiving beneficial moisture by the middle of June. The above normal rainfall continued through July and August, which increased disease potential in the barley crop. Fusarium head blight was a common downgrading factor in barley grown in the eastern regions in 2016.
The barley harvest began in August and was nearly 30% complete by the beginning of September. Record or near record rainfall amounts were received in Saskatchewan and northern Alberta during the months of September and October. These rains caused serious quality deterioration in the un-harvested barley crop. Harvest progress during this period was very slow, although it did manage to reach close to 85% complete by the end of October. Downgrading of the crop due to weathering factors was present in the later harvested crop. Mild, dry weather returned to the Prairie region in early November resulting in some harvest progress, but there still remains a portion of the crop to be harvested in the early winter or spring.
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