Nova Scotia

N.S. farmers, businesses coping with rain

Farmers in Nova Scotia say days of steady rain has saturated fields and set back planting.
The River Oaks Golf Club is closed because the Musquodoboit River has swollen over its banks and flooded several holes on the course. (Paul Palmeter/CBC)

Farmers in Nova Scotia say days of steady rain has saturated fields and set back planting.

Patricia Bishop, who runs TapRoot Farms in Port Williams with her husband, said planting on her farm has been set back by a week.

"It's causing a great deal of challenge for us. I was talking to Josh, my husband, today about what's going on out there in the fields and certainly we're both feeling that it's difficult," Bishop told CBC News.

"We can't get our transplants in, we can't get our direct seeding in and that slows things up for all of us so we're definitely behind in terms of getting things in the ground."

If the rain continues into next week, Bishop said that will further complicate planting. She said some farmers may already be facing long-term setbacks in the season.

The wet weather has been perfect for growing grass, but not for cutting sods.

Andy Streatch says it's been too wet to cut sods. ((CBC))
At Musquodoboit Valley Quality Sod, the fields are flooded and are too wet for machinery. As a result, production has been shut down.

"We had to rush at about six o'clock [Tuesday] morning, to bring the gear up out of the field because the flood waters were starting to come across and we didn't know if we were going to get it out," Andy Streatch said.

Rain has submerged some of Streatch's 404 hectares of sod fields. Without machines to do the work, his workers may have to do the work manually in order to meet demand.

"We have a lot of employees that have been with us for a long time and they rely on the income to feed their families so we're trying to take care of everybody," Streatch said. "But, at the same time, if you've got no sales, then you've got to make both ends meet."

In the meantime, the company is getting employees to perform other jobs like maintaining its equipment and vehicles.

Silver lining

Nova Scotia's Department of Environment said with the recent rain, the province's ground water supply should be in good shape this summer. There are 40 monitoring wells across the province and it's expected they'll show an increase in levels.

"Even thought it's raining now we may not see the increase in ground water levels for weeks or months even. It's like money in the bank," said David Briggins, the manager of the water and wastewater branch.

"It's water that we're getting now that may be available in the future when it's needed more."

Sara Jane Snook, the deputy minister for the Department of Environment, said there is a silver lining to all the rain because Nova Scotians who rely on well water have plenty to draw from.

"Just before this rainy period started we were experiencing quite dry weather," Snook said as she answered questions Wednesday morning at the legislature's public accounts committee.

"Department of Natural Resources was concerned about forest fire and we're always concerned with the level in the reservoirs, thinking along the lines of drought. Then of course in Nova Scotia, wait 10 minutes and the weather changed and now the reservoirs are nicely recharged."

Environment Canada issued a rainfall warning for Halifax on Wednesday morning and said an additional 40 millimetres of rain may fall through early Thursday. By 1:30 p.m. AT, the rainfall warning had been lifted.

Northern and eastern parts of mainland Nova Scotia, which has already received 70 to 100 millimetres of rain over the past two days, will receive additional amounts of up to 20 millimetres through Wednesday night, according to Environment Canada.

Total rainfall amounts in Cape Breton could exceed 50 millimetres into Thursday.

Environment Canada's unofficial rainfall amounts as of 3 a.m. on Wednesday:

  • Malay Falls – 106.4 millimetres
  • Shearwater – 86.9 millimetres
  • Kentville – 81.9 millimetres
  • Nappan – 76.2 millimetres
  • Halifax Stanfield International Airport – 72.1 millimetres
  • Western Head – 56.9 millimetres
  • Parrsboro – 43.6 millimetres
  • Caribou Point – 41.3 millimetres

Meanwhile in Musquodoboit Harbour, staff at the River Oaks Golf Club said the Musquodoboit River has swollen over its banks has flooded several holes on the course.

"That water is mostly on our back nine and it looks like it's still coming up," Kevin Kerr, of the golf club, said. "It's probably going to affect five holes. It doesn't really do much damage, but it closes down our play which is a loss of revenue".

The course is closed until conditions improve and in the meantime, kitchen and bar staff are also not working.