StatsCan Pegs Western Canada Drought as Bad as 2002 in Some Areas

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Vegetation growth index map
Vegetation growth index as of the week of July 19 to 25, 2021 compared with normal (1987-2020), by census consolidated subdivision for Western Canada. Photo: Statistics Canada

The drought conditions in Western Canada are equivalent to or lower than the 2002 in the southwestern corner of Saskatchewan and southern Alberta, Statistics Canada says in a post on July 29.

In Eastern Canada, drought conditions are similar to normal from Ottawa to Montreal, lower than normal from Trois-Rivières to Québec and much lower than normal for the Niagara Falls–Port Huron–Owen Sound region of Ontario. Statistics Canada notes the Maritimes are for the most part experiencing a normal year.

“Despite the heat and lack of rain in parts of the country, the situation could still improve if cooler temperatures and rain come in time to mitigate the decline in yields and quality,” Statistics Canada says.

Statistics Canada monitors crop conditions on a weekly basis using coarse resolution satellite imagery as part of the Crop Condition Assessment Program funding by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. It uses 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, the post says. Since April 1, most of the Prairies received from 40 to 85 per cent of average precipitation since the beginning of the growing season, while the interior of B.C. has received less than 40 per cent of average precipitation.

“The concern expressed by many farm operators is that the current drought conditions have hit at the worst time of crop development,” Statistics Canada says in the post.

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