Calgary

Alberta farmers need to start seeding soon, but first they have to finish last year's harvest

Alberta farmers are hoping to see a break in the wintry weather soon as they gear up to start seeding.

'Mother Nature is not helping us right now'

Seeding in southern Alberta typically takes place in late April, but many farmers are still waiting for the snow to melt. (Dave Gilson/CBC)

Alberta farmers are hoping to see a break in the wintry weather soon as they gear up to start seeding.

But once they can get on their fields, many of them will first have to focus on getting last year's crops off.

At Woolliams Farms, a large operation west of Airdrie, Larry Woolliams has his crop plans, workers and equipment all ready to go.

But while seeding for him typically takes place in late April, he says he and his crews are still waiting for the snow to melt.

"Mother Nature is not helping us right now," he said.

The Alberta government estimates 10 per cent of all 2019 crops were left on the fields because of early snowfall. (Dave Gilson/CBC)

The province estimates 10 per cent of all 2019 crops were left on the fields.

In Woolliams's case, he has some wheat and barley still to bring in.

Farmers are concerned with what can be salvaged, how long it will take to harvest it and when they can start seeding. 

"For me, I've got 10, 12 days of combining ahead of me here yet, and I'm starting to think that's not going to happen here until the end of the second week of April, unless mother nature really turns around," he said.

"There's a lot of producers throughout Alberta that are in the same scenario,"

Meantime, farmers are having to implement safety strategies related to COVID-19, just like everyone else.

"We haven't had any outside people here on the farm for about three weeks now," he said.

"And all our seasonal guys, they're all quarantined at home. Everybody's on standby."

But Woolliams says he's still optimistic and hopes to recoup what he can from last year and have a better crop year ahead.

"We're just in salvage mode here right now. We've obviously lost our good grade quality, and, hopefully here, being optimistic that 2020 will provide to be a good year," he said.

Alberta farmers are hoping to see a break in winter-like weather soon as they gear up to start seeding. (Dave Gilson/CBC)

With files from Dave Gilson

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.