Canola, grains farmers in Grande Prairie, Alberta, concerned about losing millions of dollars in crops because of widespread frost, official says

LOS ANGELES , September 19, 2011 () – Farmers in Grande Prairie, Alberta, are concerned about losing millions of dollars in crops as a large portion of the growing area has been hit by widespread frost, Daily Herald-Tribune reported Sept. 16.

Frost has hit a large area of Grand Prairie, but is not considered a “killing frost,” as that title is typically given at -2 degrees Celsius and the region is seeing temperatures between 0 degrees and -1 degrees Celsius, according to a topical map constructed by Alberta Agriculture’s Ralph Wright.

The map put together by Ralph Wright was only built for the night of Sept. 11 to Sept. 12, but it illustrates a trend that has persisted since. More than 20 Environment Canada operated weather stations in addition to Alberta Agriculture survey temperatures, winds and humidity in the Peace region.

The level of crop damage though a night of frost is dictated by degree and length of frost, relative humidity, and presence of rain or dew, according to an email from the Alberta Canola Producers’ Commission.

Between 30 and 35 new maps are built each week tracking various conditions that can affect farmers, Wright said.

Anyone who has access to the database can see the likelihood of killing frost from data spread over the last 20 years.

Early frost presents a potential problem for farmers, with the majority of crops about two weeks behind schedule from wet weather though the summer in addition to cooler conditions that normal.

The frost threat is serious, but canola farmers should be patient before reaping, as anything below -5 degrees Celsius should be treated on a wait-and-see basis, according to Gregory Sekulic, Grand Prairie area agronomy specialist.

Canola is a crop that can be extremely hurt by heavy frost, while cereal grains are affected, but experience less yield loss, Sekulic said.

The primary source of this article is Daily Herald-Tribune, Grand Prairie, Alberta, on Sept. 16.

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