Farm losses loom as heat wave, drought take toll on crops in B.C. and Western Canada

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      Environment Canada has issued a new heat warning for Metro Vancouver.

      A heat wave is expected Thursday (July 29) up to Saturday (July 31).

      It’s not only urban residents who are dealing with record-high temperatures.

      People in rural areas are seeing how warm conditions are impacting their livelihood.

      A report notes that crops in British Columbia and Western Canada are taking a beating from the heat.

      The Canadian Drought Monitor indicates that drought conditions are going on in varying degrees in this part of the country.

      A Statistics Canada report states that high temperatures and lack of rainfall have “stressed crops”.

      The federal agency noted that “some crops have matured faster than normal, or stagnated in their development”.

      “The longer these conditions persist, the greater the negative impact will be on crop and hay yields, grain quality and ultimately, farm cash receipts,” Statistics Canada said in its report Thursday (July 29).

      The report noted that Western Canada “experienced above-average temperatures for the last month that progressively intensified from Manitoba through to British Columbia”.

      “Since April 1, most of the Prairies received from 40% to 85% of average precipitation since the beginning of the growing season, while the interior of British Columbia has received less than 40% of average precipitation,” Statistics Canada reported.

      Moreover, many farm operators are concerned that the “current drought conditions have hit at the worst time of crop development”.

      Statistics Canada related that it monitors crop conditions on a weekly basis using satellite imagery as part of the Crop Condition Assessment Program (CCAP).

      Further, the CCAP uses the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) to monitor changing crop and pasture conditions.

      “Based on the NDVI, for the week of July 19 to 25, 2021, growing conditions are lower to much lower for most of the Prairies and British Columbia compared with normal,” Statistics Canada reported.

      The report noted that the “situation could still improve”.

      That is “if cooler temperatures and rain come in time to mitigate the decline in yields and quality”.