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Rains leave farmers hoping for a good harvest

Wet weather has brought relief to farmers after two years of drought. Local farmers say while the rain has resulted in minor flooding, the amount of rain is helping crops and pastures flourish.
Area farmers report pastures, hay and crops are off to a good start.
Area farmers report pastures, hay and crops are off to a good start.

Wet weather has brought relief to farmers after two years of drought. Local farmers say while the rain has resulted in minor flooding, the amount of rain is helping crops and pastures flourish.

Crops are looking "above average," said MD director of agriculture Matt Janz. However, he said some fields are becoming waterlogged with the heavy rains last week and showing some stress due to the excess water.

"Everything from canola, to wheat, to peas all look good," Janz said.

Keith Kornelson, manager for Lakeland Agricultural Research Association, said hay crops are looking good with the amount of moisture received in the region, but that heavy rains are making it difficult to dry out. "At this point there's lots of hay down and sitting in the moisture and it's going to affect the quality a bit," he said.

"We're getting to the point where we're kind of done with moisture. We don't really need any more of that," he said, adding that more rain could start causing a negative effect. One possible effect could be disease, which many farmers are spraying for now in an effort to prevent. Several farmers experienced a problem with cutworms in canola crops earlier in the season.

Kornelson said he hasn't heard of any significant grasshopper damage and doesn't think it will be a problem this year. While grasshoppers have been noticed in the northwest part of the MD, Janz said "with the moisture right now crops can easily compete with the grasshoppers."

While St. Paul experienced some hail recently, Kornelson said he hasn't heard of any hail damage in the region.

"So far we're doing pretty well compared to the rest of the province, so hopefully we can stay away from what people term the great white combine."

Harold Ross farms in the Glendon area. He said his hay crop is great this year, but that a lot of it has been cut and is deteriorating while he waits for it to dry out.

"This is the best crop we've seen in the past few years," he said about his cereal crops. While a few places on his land are flooded, it's not too bad and he hasn't seen an increase in insects or disease.

He said the drought reduced crop production and the productivity of his pastures, but that this year crops and pastures were making a full recovery.

Ed Persely in the Bonnyville area said his cereal crops are growing very well, which he described as a "pleasant change" from the previous year's drought. He estimated around two to three per cent of his land had been flooded by the heavy rains, but said the good growth in the non-flooded areas make up for the loss in flooded land.

He added that the rain hadn't created any increase in insect or disease problems, but that he's monitoring his crops closely.

Fort Kent farmer Murray Pikowicz said his pastures and hay are looking good this year, but "As far as any of the cereal crops and the grains, you never know until you get them in the bin." He said that he had excellent yields in the past couple of years despite the drought.