The heatwave which brought record-breaking temperatures to many Central Alberta towns, including Drumheller, has also brought concerns for crop damage.
High temperatures and a lack of moisture over the last month have area farmers concerned whether their fields will produce.
“The prolonged heat and drying winds have stunted crops that are producing small heads and pods with greatly reduced yields,” Wheatland County manager of Agriculture and Environment Russel Muenchrath told the Mail.
Muenchrath also noted moisture reserves in the soil are also “well below normal” for the time of year, which is concerning as these reserves normally help sustain crops between each rain event.
He adds the drought conditions are also posing problems for livestock producers, especially those who rely on surface water. Low hay yields could also force some producers to sell off livestock in the winter due to rising feed prices.
Nearby, both Starland County and Kneehill County are also experiencing drought conditions and worries of stunted crop growth and low yields.
The Mail reported in the June 30 edition moisture reserves in Starland County were “in a bit of a deficit” according to new Agricultural Fieldman Ryan Hallett.
Despite some precipitation in the forecast, it has not been enough to mitigate the drought conditions.
On Thursday, July 22 the Canadian and Alberta governments announced support for producers facing hardships due to drought with the early designation of the Livestock Tax Deferral. Crops damaged from the drought will also be covered through immediate adjustments to the AgriInsurance program to allow these crops to be made available for feed.
The Special Areas Board also declared a state of agricultural disaster on Friday, July 23 due to the drought conditions within the region.
Dry conditions are also posing an increased risk of fires, and fire bans or restrictions have been enacted in all three counties, as well as within the Town of Drumheller. These are expected to remain in effect until conditions improve.
Lacie Nairn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Drumheller Mail