The end of September snow in parts of Alberta threw a wrench into what was an already stressful harvest season.
With more rain and snow in the forecast for much of the province this week, it’s bad news for farmers who rely on quality crops for income.
Lyle Jensen farms land near Nobleford, Alta., and says farmers have been spending long hours in the combine to try to beat the next snowfall. He says some are feeling the pressure.
“Right now, it’s a race against the clock for the silage, and that’s definitely going to throw a wrench into everybody’s plans,” Jensen said.
Harvest progress in Alberta
Right now, about 34 per cent of crops are in the bin across Alberta, when normally that number would be over half.
Northern and central Alberta farmers are the farthest behind because of a wet and cool summer.
Southern Alberta is faring the best, with almost 80 per cent complete. However, crop yields in that part of the province won’t be as big because of several dry summers in a row and unfortunately, a blast of wet weather this late in the season downgrades the quality of grain.
Jensen said after a series of bad years, farmers in the area are feeling the pinch.
“For a lot of guys on dry land, this is the third pretty poor drought year in a row now, which is really starting to take a toll.”
Mental health and farming
Dr. Robbie Babins-Wagner is a counsellor with the Calgary Counselling Centre. Babins-Wagner said recognizing symptoms of anxiety and depression is important for farmers who are under stress.
According to Alberta Health Services, those who are feeling effects of fatigue, anxiety or depression may:
- feel sad, grumpy or moody
- lose interest in their usual activities
- eat more and crave carbohydrates, such as bread and pasta
- gain weight
- sleep more but still feel tired
- have trouble concentrating
- have thoughts that life is not worth living
There is no agriculture-specific mental health crisis line in Alberta, but last March, the rural municipalities of Alberta asked the province to create one.
Babins-Wagner said for now, that next step for farmers or anyone struggling with stress is calling 211 so a resource specialist can set you up with a counsellor or support group.
More information can also be found on the Alberta 211 website.