‘I’ve never seen anything like this: Fields under water leading to seeding delays for farmers

A string of storms that have left fields underwater could delay farmers from getting their crop seeds in the ground – the latest in a series of challenges that Manitoba producers have had to face in the past 24 months.

Stewart Floyd, owner of Floyd Seed and Oat Processors in Arborg, said in a normal year farmers are preparing their fields for seeding. This year, however, farmers’ fields are drowning under floodwater.

“My house has been completely surrounded by water now for about two weeks,” he said. “I’ve never seen anything like this.”

He said the optimal time to get seeds in the ground is in the first few weeks of May – typically between May 10 to 15.

“The longer it goes after that you slowly are getting less and less yield potential. So, really your income is dropping every day,” he said.

It is a concern Keystone Agricultural Producers (KAP) has heard from many farmers in the areas of the province that have been waterlogged by April’s downpour of precipitation.

“Until the water disappears, we won’t be able to assess what we need to do on the fields. There could be some damage with regards to drainage ditches and erosion and those particular aspects as well,” said Bill Campbell, president of KAP.

“We’re not exactly sure how long it will take for this excess moisture to disappear or be absorbed or run into the rivers.”

He said the delay in seeding could force some farmers to reconsider which crops they are planning to plant. Another concern is the fast-approaching June 15 deadline for farmers to apply for crop insurance.

This is the latest in a series of challenges Manitoba farmers have faced recently.

“The drought last year was very widespread and virtually affected everybody in the province. Then to have a winter which was the third snowiest on record, and April that has set records for precipitation – it has really brought about a lot of challenges in dealing with the weather conditions,” Campbell said.

The challenges may not be over yet for farmers as more rain is expected this weekend.

Despite the concerns, Campbell said farmers are trying to stay optimistic for the season ahead.

“It’s not always favourable or likable, but we do what we do because we’re very good at what we do.”

For Floyd, whose livelihood relies on farmers getting their seeds in the ground and producing good yields, he says there are stresses around every corner.

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