April 17, 2018 7:57 pm
Updated: April 17, 2018 8:40 pm

Farmland flooding in southern Alberta presents major issues

WATCH: Farmland in Lethbridge County has been hit hard by flood waters. The effects of a delay in the season could present some major issues. Jessie Weisner reports.


Drastic levels of snowfall all over Lethbridge County are causing huge amounts of water to accumulate on top of the land.

Farm fields are some of the worst areas affected — literally turning into lakes.

READ MORE: Lethbridge County declares local state of emergency due to flooding

Farmers themselves are really feeling the impact.

“As far as planting, I think we’re two to three weeks behind,” said Ryan Mercer, owner of Mercer Seeds Ltd.

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“When we do actually get in the field, we’re going to have to do some shift work and some 24-hour days to try and get as caught up as we can.”

Two to three weeks can affect countless things in farming.

If the crops flower in the middle of summer, they can get heat-blasted and drastically lower the quality of the harvest.

In addition, if the crops are in the ground too late into the year, frost can eat away at them.

READ MORE: Snowy facilities force cancellation of Calgary high school sports for most of April 

Adriana Navarro Borrell, an instructor for Agriculture Sciences at Lethbridge College, says in some cases, planting the crop may not even be worth it.

“At some point, when the threshold for seeding has passed, it’s almost wiser not even to seed that crop than put it in and lose money, profit and your whole crop system,” Borrell said.

The obvious solution seems to just pump the water off the land.

However, most farms don’t have anywhere to send the flood water and are forced to just wait it out.

READ MORE: Pooling water, road and field flooding a concern in rural southern Alberta

“There’s not much we can do at this point,” Mercer said.

“We’re just trying to be as organized as possible, having the seed in place and having the drills ready to go. So when we do actually get in the field we can just get the seed in as fast as we can.

“At this point, all we’re going to try and do is make up for lost time.”

Incidentally, last year saw virtually no moisture between June, July and August, leaving the crops quite dry.

Mercer says if history repeats itself, farms could be in an even tougher spot.

“Once we get seeds in the ground, we still do need some moisture to bring the soil profile up, as ironic as it is. It looks really wet right now, but because the grounds frozen, a lot of that is going to run off.”

READ MORE: Calgary could see a month’s worth of snow in just over 24 hours

Mother Nature has been incredibly unpredictably in 2018.

However, it will take a lot more than a planting delay to kill Alberta’s $2-billion agriculture economy.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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