As of September 12, 2023
This report provides timely information on the regional agroclimate conditions, risks, and impacts across Canada. Reports are produced every four weeks.
The most significant climate-related agricultural risk this reporting period continues to be severe drought across Western Canada. Abnormally dry and warm conditions resulted in pasture deterioration, moisture stressed crops, water supply concerns and wildfires. The most significant agricultural impacts are in southern Alberta, western Saskatchewan and northern British Columbia.
Excess moisture in Quebec and the Atlantic Region is limiting crop quality and yield potential.
The forecast is for warmer than normal temperatures (compared to 1980-2010 averages) and generally dry conditions are expected across the country.
30 Day Precipitation Percentiles (August 12 to September 11, 2023)
Coastal and northern British Columbia, northern Alberta and southcentral Manitoba experienced extremely low precipitation. Below normal precipitation was received in interior British Columbia, central Alberta, southcentral Saskatchewan, much of Manitoba, and eastern portions of northern Ontario and southern Quebec. In Atlantic Canada, precipitation was well above normal.
Canadian Drought Monitor (Conditions as of August 31, 2023)
Although the severity of drought worsened in many parts of Western Canada, the extent of drought conditions remained relatively unchanged with 81% of agricultural lands experiencing drought. Extreme Drought (D3) conditions emerged in southern Manitoba and expanded in southern Alberta, Saskatchewan and British Columbia. The Exceptional Drought (D4) in southern Alberta expanded.
- British Columbia
- The province continued to experience hot, dry conditions despite some light rainfall. Soil moisture continues to be low, as are surface water and streams.
- Drought has forced some producers to sell off cattle in many areas including Prince George, the Peace Region and Vancouver Island. Non-irrigated fields are showing significant impacts from drought. Some reports are showing 25 to 50% normal hay production in some regions, including the northern interior. Many crops in these regions may go unharvested.
- Much of the province is under voluntary or mandatory water restrictions due to low stream flows. Vancouver Island has banned forage irrigation.
- Heavy smoke forced labourers to stay indoors, resulting in delayed harvest in the Okanagan Valley. Wildfires forced the evacuation of some farmland and wineries. Along with travel bans, this has had a significant effect on local economies, including fruit stands and wineries. Smoke taint in grapes is a concern but not confirmed yet.
- Conditions remained warm and mostly dry across southern portions of the province while northern areas are experiencing cool wet conditions.
- Harvest in the south is well ahead of normal due to drought. Cool and wet conditions in the northern agricultural regions have delayed harvest and caused lodging and field access issues. Overall, 35% of all crops are ahead of average.
- Currently, the provincial dryland yields are estimated to be 12% below the 5-year average. However, the south and central regions’ crop yields are estimated to be 32% and 21% below the 5-year average, respectively.
- Livestock producers are facing a significant feed shortage, many have or will be liquidating herds. There is very little pasture growth in the south, significantly reducing fall grazing opportunities.
- The hot and dry weather has limited yield potential in many parts of the province. However, late season rain through the central region has improved moisture conditions and provided a boost to pasture growth.
- Producers are half finished harvest, ahead of the 10-year average. Harvest is most advanced in the driest parts of the southwest where harvest is 81% complete. The west-central region is more than 60% harvested and almost half of the southeast is complete.
- In the southwest and west-central regions, cereal crops that cannot be harvested due to drought and grasshopper damage are being salvaged for livestock feed. In contrast, crops that received moisture in the northeast are leading to above provincial yield averages.
- Soil moisture has negatively affected crop yields across most of the province. Topsoil moisture is rated as 64% short to very short with the majority of impacts in southwest, west-central, and central areas.
- Drought is affecting livestock sector and producers are hauling feed and water for cattle. Poor quality crops are being used as feed due to lack of hay and pasture production.
- Seventy-one percent of hay and pasture land topsoil moisture remains very low.
- Moisture reserves are variable throughout the province however most regions show low moisture at 30 cm with localized areas much drier. Driest conditions remain in the southcentral region which has caused some drought stress, especially in soybeans and corn.
- Dry conditions are affecting pastures and water supplies in some regions with producers providing supplemental feed or hauling cattle back to yards early.
- Harvest is 51% completed, ahead of the 5-year average. Overall, cereal crops remain in fair to mostly good condition. Soybean and canola harvest has begun.
- Rainfall continued to be well above average in southern Ontario, with drier conditions in the east. Southern counties reported excessive rains and several tornadoes through the region impacting the quality of small grains. Excess moisture is expected to impact corn yields.
- In southern Ontario, winter wheat harvest is complete with good yields. Wet conditions have favored plant growth and yield in spring seeded crops, but heat is needed to fill the grain.
- Corn appears to be a week behind schedule. Widespread nitrogen deficiency symptoms have been reported due to dry conditions in early summer, which will likely impact corn yields. Many canola fields have large pods, but lodging is widespread even among resistant varieties.
- The province received frequent and sometimes heavy rainfall in early August, delaying cereal harvest and second cut of hay which affected crop quality. Precipitation accumulations were particularly high in eastern and northwestern regions of the province. For both winter and spring cereals, reports mention poor yields and quality throughout the province. Corn is doing well with generally good conditions across the province.
- Harvest of horticultural crops is ongoing with producers noting the presence of visible root diseases in some fields. Apple harvesting is starting and producers are expecting below average yields.
- Livestock in the northwest are experiencing feed shortages but there are regional feed surpluses to source from.
- Atlantic Region
- The Atlantic region has experienced the rainiest summer on record. Many areas have experienced some level of flooding. Conditions are not ideal for drying or harvest.
- Hay quality is variable due to delayed harvests. Wet fields have caused some forages to not be harvested. There is very little dry hay to be found.
- Blueberry harvest is almost complete with yields expected to be low due to several factors, including poor pollination conditions, soft berries caused by heavy rains, and high shrinkage at processing plants.
- Spring wheat harvest has begun with initial tests indicating a poor-quality crop with high levels of toxin.
- Corn is behind at least 2 weeks. Yields are expected to be reduced due to variable establishment and whole sections of fields drowning out.
- The mid-September to mid-October forecast is for abnormally warm temperatures across much of the country. Drier than normal conditions are expected in southern British Columba, the Prairie region, northern Quebec and the Atlantic region.
- The outlook through September, October and November forecasts continued warmer than normal temperatures throughout Canada. Below-normal precipitation is forecast for southern British Columbia and Nova Scotia.
This report was created with help from our network of Agroclimate Impact Reporter volunteers. Each month, they help us report on current conditions and weather-related risks to Canada's agriculture sector. Join the network if you are interested in becoming an Agroclimate Impact Reporter.