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Alberta crop yield below five year average

Summer drought plagues province's growing season

The latest provincial crop report says this year's harvest in central Alberta is likely to be 25 per cent below the five-year average.

The main culprits have been drought in the spring and early summer to hailstorms later in the growing season.

James Wright of the Agriculture Financial Services Corp. in Lacombe says it doesn't much matter how much it rains now _ the damage has been done.

He believes this year's yield will fall considerably short of the bumper harvest of 2013 _ a growing season with moderate temperatures and ample rainfall.

This year, conditions have teetered between prolonged periods of drought and extreme rain, while temperatures have fluctuated from below to above average.

Wright is hoping for a more moderate climate for the rest of the summer to allow crops to gradually ripen.

"The dry June and the hot weather was a real killer.''

The other big factor has been hail. Wright points to golf-ball-sized ice pellets that broke windshields in the Lacombe area on July 20.

The Airdie to Red Deer area is considered Alberta's ``hail alley'' and hailstorms have been a significant problem for five out of the last seven years, he said.

The crop report also says that some crops are in their later stages and the harvest of winter cereals, field peas and early barley has already started in southern Alberta and is expected to happen soon in central regions.

Canola is in full flower in many parts of the province and there's good regrowth of hay and pasture in the west.

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