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A 20-minute storm with 12 months of consequences: Farmers devastated by crop loss

Click to play video: 'Storm damages ‘really good’ southern Alberta crops: ‘Disappointing to see it disappear’' Storm damages ‘really good’ southern Alberta crops: ‘Disappointing to see it disappear’
Monday’s severe weather took a toll on southern Alberta crops. Many fields took a beating from hail and strong wind. As Erik Bay reports, some producers say entire fields may be lost. – Jul 19, 2022

Summer crops were looking hearty just two days ago, according to local farmers.

But a devastating storm that swept through southern Alberta Monday afternoon has left crops looking bleak.

Lethbridge County grain and sugar beet plants were left with broken and bent stalks, the once promising yield now completely flattened.

Marble-sized hail, and dark, fast-moving clouds rolled across the sky early Monday.

“I knew we were in for something seeing that one coming,” said farmer Arnie Bergen-Henengowen.

Read more: Families grieve loss of homes after windstorm rips through Cypress County

Lethbridge County experienced some aspects of the major wind storm that tore through southern Alberta, bringing winds of up to 140 km/h. The largest extent of the storm’s damage occurred in Cypress County, where it left several families without homes and many structures completely torn apart.

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“[We] had a really good crop coming,” Bergen-Henengowen told Global News. “[It’s] quite disappointing to see it disappear like this.”

“It was a 20-minute storm but it’s got 12 months of consequences for us,” added Leighton Kolk, another farmer from the area who also lost crops. He guessed that fields that were in the storm’s path are anywhere between 40 to 100 per cent wiped out.

Read more: Storm season rolls in through southern Alberta

“That land is gone. The corn is all snapped off and the canola is no longer yellow – it’s kind of a dull green,” Kolk said. He said the storm’s damage will likely lead to reduced cash flow for farmers over the coming months, plus the possibility of lack of feed for the winter – a potentially bigger problem for some farmers.

The next step for farmers is to contact their insurance providers and try to salvage what remains in their fields.

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“These losses are always devastating in the agricultural community, and yesterday’s severe weather has only added to the recent challenges we have faced as producers,” said Reeve Tory Campbell, noting how important it is for those affected by the storm to take care of their mental health in the wake of this loss.

“We are a strong agricultural community and must support each other during trying times,” he said in a news release, Tuesday.

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Southern Alberta sugar beet crops destroyed after storm ripped through Lethbridge County, Monday, July 18, 2022.
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Corn crops were snapped in half after Monday's storm in southern Alberta. Global News
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Storm near Lethbridge. Courtesy of Jest Sidloski.
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Drone imagery from a home and yard destroyed by a storm that ripped through Medicine Hat and surrounding area on July 18, 2022. Derek Brade, Global News
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A view of an area near Range Road 73 and Township Road 122 in southeastern Alberta on July 18, 2022. A powerful storm ripped through the region, damaging a number of homes. Courtesy: Sharon Gopaul

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