Many crops in southern Alberta and Saskatchewan are expected to be below average this year, but some farmers in other areas are seeing yields they say are close to something special.
David Johnston, a grain farmer in Three Creeks, Alta., about 25 kilometres northeast of Peace River, is reporting pea yields of 77 bushels per acre, well above the Peace region’s current estimated dry pea average of 43 bu. per acre.
“This is almost off the charts for profitability,” Johnston said during a phone interview.
“When you’re nearly into 80 bushels, it’s a very, very nice crop.”
Lack of moisture in the southern parts of Alberta and Saskatchewan received much of the attention from crop observers this year, but many farmers like Johnston, have managed to grow impressive crops.
Johnston credited good subsoil moisture, the weather, a sheltered field, a pre-seed burndown, and a well-timed fungicide application program for his success.
“The crop was just clean right from the start,” he said. “It was weed- and disease-free.”
He was also a bit lucky, he added.
“We didn’t get a lot of rain, but definitely got enough rain. There was no frost, of course, and no hail, and all of these things have to line up,” he said. “On the whole, I was quite heavy on the inputs and timeliness as a management practice — everything was done when it exactly needed to be done.”
Jessica Seitz, a northern territory grain sales representative with Cargill, said she’s heard producers are averaging around 40 to 60 bu. per acre in the region.
“There are definitely some places where there’s one-offs that are higher than that and ones that are lower than that, too,” she said.
Pea yields, she said, are typically around 45 bu. per acre.
“Pea harvest isn’t done yet, so we won’t know for sure quite yet,” she said. “But I think things are looking better than guys expected at this point. Hopefully, the weather holds out and we have a long fall.”
Johnston said he plans to follow similar management practices for years to come.
“I might’ve got a one-in-a-15-year crop,” he said. “It’s exceptional.”