This has been one of the hottest Augusts on record in East Central Alberta, which is not good news for farmers' crops. It has also been very smokey of late, which might actually be good for them.
 
"As strange as it sounds, when you've got this dense smoke and stuff, the UV or sunlight getting down in there is probably not as big a factor in trying to ripen stuff up," speculated Alan Hampton, Senior Agricultural Fieldman for Starland County. "It probably slows down the ripening process slightly."
 
That, said Hampton, could help to increase crop yields, although he's not optimistic that there will be anything like a bumper crop.
 
"There will be a crop there, but I think yields will probably vary from field to field," he told Drum FM. "I've heard of some decent yields coming out on some of the earlier peas that were put in if they caught rain; but I've also heard of some (that are) pretty disappointing, so it's likely going to be a little bit less of a year than guys were hoping for."
 
The hot, dry weather has allowed some farmers to begin harvesting early crops and that should pick up more in coming weeks, but Hampton doesn't see 2018 being as good for the average farmer as last year.
 
"We didn't have the soil moisture going into the spring like we have had in the last year or two, so that makes a big difference," he noted. "Secondly is the amount of heat we've had, so many days of plus 30 and above, so any of your small seeded or small grains, they can't function that well with high temperatures."
 
While he wants things to remain dry for the harvest, Hampton cautions that the fire hazard is very high and says farmers are going to have to keep their machinery clean and make sure there is easy access to water in case of emergency.

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