British Columbia

B.C. farmers struggle with soaked fields, lost crops

Some farmers in B.C.'s Interior are struggling with water-logged fields, which could affect their income for the season.

Wet weather creates challenging situations for some hay, vegetable producers

Brianna van de Wijngaard's vegetable fields were under water last weekend, forcing her to harvest some crops, while hoping others survived. (Brianna van de Wijngaard​​​​​​​)

Brianna van de Wijngaard spent nearly seven hours pulling crops out from under water last weekend.

Hundreds of kilograms of broccoli, kohlrabi and cabbage were placed into a little boat, floating on top of a metre of water in her one-and-a-half-acre field.

"I just went down there and started cutting the vegetables that were ready. The rest of our crops aren't ready yet, so I couldn't do anything about those," she said.

Van de Wijngaard owns the aptly named Puddle Produce Farm in Soda Creek, B.C., located near the Fraser River, which has been breaching its banks and causing flooding throughout the region.

Van de Wijngaard​​​​​​​ is the owner of Puddle Produce Farms in Soda Creek, B.C. (Submitted by Brianna van de Wijngaard​​​​​​​)

Her neighbours alerted her to water coming into the garden, so she rushed out to try to sandbag around it. By the next morning, two-thirds of the plot were under water, which meant she had to move fast if she wanted to save her livelihood.

She started the farm in 2013 when she moved to the Cariboo region from Vancouver Island, and she said she's almost at the point where she is making enough money to live off the farm. 

But too much water in the fields can cause problems. 

Van de Wijngaard said the water has started to drain, but it's uncertain what kind of damage it will do to her remaining crops.

Van de Wijngaard​​​​​​​ spent nearly seven hours pulling crops out from under water on her B.C. Interior farm last weekend. (Brianna van de Wijngaard​​​​​​​)

"There's definitely going to be beds that we're probably going to lose," she said. 

"I'm not sure which beds those will be. We put a lot of work into them and they were doing really well and we're definitely going to lose certain crops. At this point I just don't know how much."

Flooding in the Cariboo has helped Puddle Produce Farm more than live up to its name. Brianna van de Wijngaard speaks with Carolina de Ryk about trying to salvage veggies under three feet of water. 9:08

Wet weather causing problems for hay producers

Although the wet weather has been beneficial for B.C.'s Interior when it comes to preventing wildfires, it's also creating problems for hay producers in the province who require dry conditions to cut the hay. 

If the weather doesn't warm up soon, some farmers may not be able to cut at all this season.

Cordy Cox, rancher and president of the Cariboo Cattlemen's Association, has been dealing with too much water on her property at Tatla Lake since the fall. 

"A lot of the harvest will be getting over-mature at this point," she said.  

"The water table is so high and the ground is so full of moisture that you can't drive any tractors out there right now or anything as you'll be sinking."

She said the cool weather has also slowed the growth of hay. 

Ideally, Cox said, a long, hot stretch of weather will come to the Interior in coming weeks.

Many ranchers in the area already made insurance claims in 2019 when their crops flooded, and they could file for protection again, if they needed to. 

"It's not a sure thing that nobody can harvest any hay yet but I mean people are starting to get a little worried," Cox said. 

"There's not a ton of options other than buying hay or grazing the feed or waiting until it's possible to get on it and cutting it — you're actually fairly limited in your options until we get either warm weather or things dry out as we go through toward fall."

With files from Pamela McCall and Rob Polson

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