'We need rain': Alberta farmers hopeful for precipitation to save crops

A stretch of record-hot temperatures surging in Alberta through the end of June and early July took a toll on this season’s canola crops.

One canola farmer near Westlock, Alta., told CTV News Edmonton he’s unsure how their fields will fare over the next two weeks, as canola doesn’t react well to long stretches of scorching heat.

“When it flowers, when you see it yellow in the field, there’s a high chance those flowers will never fertilize and you’ll end up with a blank on the stem, you won’t get a pod maturing there,” John Guelly, explained.

Canada’s canola oil is used and distributed worldwide for everything from cooking to combustion.

But, due to excessive amounts of rain in 2020, Guelly said crops were a write off in the Westlock region. This year, however, is different. Guelly said after what his plants have endured, he now needs as much moisture as possible.

“A bad year last year is helping us this year,” he said. “But again, if we don’t get rain we are going to continue to see our yields slide over the next few days.

“If we can get something in a week, we might end up with an average crop.”

'SOME OF THOSE CROPS HAVE ALREADY BEEN WRITTEN OFF'

While some canola producers are reporting an average year, it’s a different story for others.

More than 80 per cent of farms are located in southern Alberta and they’re reporting poor or fair soil moisture ratings. Just 17 per cent are reportedly in good condition.

“Some areas have been severely devastated,” Ward Toma, with the Alberta Canola Producers Commission, said.

“It was too hot. They had no moisture to start with, and some of those crops have already been written off by those farmers.”

Toma told CTV News, if enough yields drop it could affect prices of canola products at grocery stores.

“We need rain, and the sooner the better,” Guelly added.

With files from CTV News Edmonton’s David Ewasuk