Nova Scotia

Cold wet spring a growing concern across province

Farm fields in Nova Scotia are a mess. Getting crops in the ground is now at risk.

Farmers, greenhouse operators struggling with conditions

Farm fields like this one in Shubenacadie are saturated. (Paul Palmeter/CBC)

Farm fields in Nova Scotia are a soggy mess.

In many instances it's impossible to get heavy machinery on them because they are saturated with rain. Getting crops in the ground is now at risk.

"We've got about a third of our crop in," said Doug Stone, the crop manager at Bokma Farms in Shubenacadie.

"I know some farmers have all of their crop in and there are some that haven't even started yet. It's just been a challenge to try and piece a couple of sunny days together to get things to dry up enough."

The Bokma operation needs to grow corn to feed 700 dairy cattle. It plants 130 hectares of corn every spring but this year it's only been able to plant a third of that.

"If you have a sunny day you try to warm the soil up and dry it out a little bit but when you go on it when it's too wet, you end up damaging the soil structure," Stone said.

Bokma Farms in Shubenacadie. (Paul Palmeter/CBC)

While getting the corn in is one issue, the next task will be the first cut of hay.

Hay fields will soon need to be cut, but they are too wet for heavy equipment right now.

"You kind of gotta play the game of when to go and how much damage will you do," said Stone.

In nearby Brookfield, there are many annuals being grown inside the Forest Glen Greenhouses. But this year that's a problem because there's been little demand.

"It's been very challenging," said Judy Thompson, the owner of Forest Glen Greenhouses. "It's probably the worst season that I've gone through and I've been in the business for 34 years."

Judy Thompson stands in front of a rack of hanging baskets at one of her greenhouses in Brookfield. (Paul Palmeter/CBC)

Atlantic Superstore and Home Depot are their biggest customers and normally Thompson's large greenhouses are starting to thin out by early June.

But this year there is much product available and the timelines at the greenhouse are being pushed back by two weeks.

"Garden centres are going to stay open longer to accommodate this change in shipping," said Thompson. "So we are hoping we can move through the product and end up being OK."

Product is beginning to back up at Forest Glen Greenhouses because consumers aren't buying them due to the wet weather. (Paul Palmeter/CBC)

Like most Nova Scotians, Thompson said she's been discouraged by the weather. But she's encouraged by a long-range forecast that calls for several days of improved conditions.

"We can't seem to get two nice days in a row," said Thompson.

"We need a stretch of more than one day of sun to put people in the mood to get out and plant, to get out in the yard."