Montreal

Floods causing late planting season for Quebec grain farmers

Quebec Farmers' Association President John McCart says he's worried if the weather doesn't improve soon, the impact of floods and heavy rain could be dramatic for some Quebec farmers.

Delays caused by heavy rain, floodwater cause for concern

Robert Allard, owner of Ferme Champfleuri in Lévis, Que., stands by his farmland drenched by heavy rainfalls in April and May. (Marc-Antoine Lavoie/Radio-Canada)

The president of the Quebec Farmers' Association, John McCart, says he's worried if the weather doesn't improve soon, the impact of floods and heavy rain could be dramatic for some Quebec farmers.

Since the beginning of May, more than 70 millimetres of rain have fallen in Quebec. Last month, more than 140 millimetres fell on the province, representing more than double the 67.4 millimetre average.

Such significant weather could affect farmers' pocketbooks, said McCart.

"There are varieties of corn that can be adapted for a shorter growing season," said McCart. "But we hope that this cycle of cold and wet doesn't continue or the yields will be drastically reduced."

Massive cleanup ahead

With floods come debris, and once floodwaters recede, farmers will have to clean their fields of any remaining debris before seeds can be sown.

Causing additional stress — the machinery used to clean fields of litter can only be used when the land is completely dry.

"A rule of thumb is that if you go into the field with your tractor and the soil sticks to the wheels, you shouldn't be in the field," says McCart.

Jacques Paquin, a farmer in Maskinongé, Que., said the circumstances have him concerned about a shorter growing season.

"Last year, I was done planting my crops on May 8," he said. "This year, I haven't even started yet. And there's a good two weeks of work before I can start," he said.

Vast areas of farmland adjacent to the St. Lawrence River in the Mauricie are completely flooded, much like this area of Maskinongé, Que. (Claude Rivest/CBC)

Delays not limited to flooded areas 

Robert Allard's farm in Lévis hasn't been flooded, but because of the rain, he's also late planting crops.

"With our usual cycle, we've started planting by now," said Allard. "This year, nothing's been done yet. We haven't even sprayed our fields. We'd usually spray fertilizer a good 15 days before planting our crops."

With files from Radio-Canada

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