Montreal

Early winter leaves Quebec farmers out in the cold

Quebec grain farmers are hoping for assistance from the provincial government, with the early onset of winter hurting corn and soybean harvests.

'This is an exceptionally disastrous period,' group representing Quebec grain farmers says

Farmers in Quebec have struggled to harvest their crops, given the heavy snowfall. (Marie-Pier Mercier/Radio-Canada)

Quebec grain farmers are hoping for assistance from the provincial government, with the early onset of winter hurting corn and soybean harvests.

After a cold, rainy spring that delayed the growing season, nearly three quarters of the province's corn crops and 10 per cent of its soybean crops have not been harvested and are now in the snow, according to the association representing the province's grain farmers.

"This is an exceptionally disastrous period for grain harvests in Quebec. After harder cereal and canola harvests, it is now the turn of corn and soybean producers to find themselves in trouble," said Christian Overbeek, the group's president.

In addition to a drop in yield, the snow is causing a sharp drop in grain quality and higher harvesting costs, the group says.

It is demanding action from the Legault government. In a statement, Quebec's Agriculture Minister André Lamontagne has agreed to a meeting with the association Nov. 26.

From vineyards to veggie growers

Sarah Carone, co-owner of the Vignoble Carone winery in Lanoraie, near Joliette, Que., said her vineyard also suffered damages.

"Winter started about a month early," she said on Daybreak, adding, "it's agriculture, so I don't try to predict anything."

Dan Brisebois, who runs Tourne-Sol Co-operative Farm in Les Cedres, west of Vaudreuil, said most of his vegetables had already been harvested, except some kale and leeks, which were lost in the storm.

But he said the early cold made getting the product to market a challenge.

"The big challenge for us is distribution," he said.

"It was really miserable getting stuff ready and delivering stuff to our clients ... We have a three-season farm. Our barn is not heated. Our delivery drop-offs are not heated."

Southern Quebec was slammed with more than 20 centimetres of snow Nov. 12. The early storm forced the City of Montreal to undertake its earliest snow-removal operation in history.

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