Extended winter runoff setting back seeding for southern Alberta farmers

Federal government and Municipal District of Taber announce $9.8 million of funding for infrastructure project. Bryce Howd

Randy Howg said it is going to cost him at least $15,000 just in propane to clear his land of floodwater thanks to a late snowfall just over a month ago in southern Alberta.

Howg grows a number of crops including wheat, peas and sugar beets south of the town of Enchant, in the Municipal District of Taber. He’s not sure whether Taber or the province will help him cover the cost.

“I know one of my neighbours is helping me out, but I don’t know if the other ones are going to,” he told Global News.

READ MORE: Flood situation stabilizes in Municipal District of Taber

Howg and his family have 35 fields to seed but have only been able to complete one with the water pumps still clearing most of the others.

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“You have an uneasy feeling. It’s called stress, but you hope that at the end of the day, the frost won’t come sooner than it did last year,” his son Bryce said.

“We’re eventually going to get everything seeded, but everything is going to be delayed. Even our main seeding is delayed. We’ve got a lot of manpower, but most of the manpower has been on pumping slews,” Howg said.

The later in the season farmers plant sugar beet seeds, the less yield time they have with harvest season running until the end of October.

READ MORE: Farmland flooding in southern Alberta presents major issues

Southern Alberta is the only source of domestically produced and refined sugar in Canada. The region accounts for 10 per cent of Canada’s sugar production. The rest of the crop grown in Canada is refined outside the country.

“There might be 10 or 15 per cent of the acres that saw seeding severely delayed because of the flooding,” said the president of the Alberta Sugar Beet Growers, Arnie Bergen-Henengouwen.

The Municipal District of Taber declared a state of local emergency on March 23 – which was lifted on May 11.

Global News reached out to the district and the province about financial aid to farmers who suffered losses because of the floods, but has yet to receive a response.

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READ MORE: Melting snow and flooding closes over 60 roads in southern Alberta

After four continuous weeks of pumping water off his property, Howg will still be unable to seed because he has to wait for the soil to dry.

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