Some producers didn’t have power for nearly three days
By Diego Flammini
Manitoba farmers and their machinery are sitting idle waiting for harvest conditions to improve after a massive snowstorm.
A weather system passed through the province on Oct. 10, bringing nearly 20 cm (7.8 inches) of snow, rain and high winds to some communities. The aftermath included thousands of power outages, downed trees and school closures, and prompted Premier Brian Pallister to declare a state of emergency on Sunday.
Some producers were without power for extended periods.
“In my case, power was out for about 32 hours, from Friday afternoon to Saturday night,” said Charles Fossay, the president of Manitoba Canola Growers. “Fortunately, the temperatures were never so cold that anyone was in danger.”
Many families have generators and are using them to get by while Manitoba Hydro works to restore power, Fossay said. He farms about 3,600 acres of crops in Starbuck Man.
About 13,000 customers were without electricity as of Tuesday morning, Manitoba Hydro said.
The wet fields will further delay harvest.
Farmers have harvested about 74 per cent of the province’s crops, Manitoba Agriculture’s Oct. 15 Crop Report says. Producers will have to wait for conditions to improve before getting back into the fields, Fossay said.
“It’s just too wet to get into the fields to do any harvesting,” he said. “If you went in now, you’d be making a huge mess and it’s really not worth it because you won’t be able to fix it. I know some farmers that went out before the storm and were leaving one-foot-deep ruts in their fields with the combines.”
Ag industry reps are concerned about the province’s potato crop.
Manitoba farmers have only harvested 60 per cent of the province’s potato acres compared to 99 per cent over the last three years.
“We thought last year was a bad harvest, but this year is proving to be just as bad, if not worse, with all the rainfall,” Dan Sawatzky, manager of Keystone Potaro Producers Association, told CBC on Oct. 10.
Manitoba Hydro photo