Some Ottawa farmers still can't plant crops in soaked fields

Ottawa-area farmers are fed up with wet weather this growing season, and worry about balancing the books come fall if the rain keeps up.

Rainfall record-setting in May, above-average in June

Farmers are hoping for a steady stretch of sunny weather to dry out their fields. (Waubgeshig Rice/CBC)

Some Ottawa-area farmers are getting fed up with rain that just doesn't seem to let up this growing season.

After another deluge on the Canada Day weekend, massive puddles remain on fields at Bit-Ta-Luk Farms in Carp where corn and soy should be growing.

Andrew Ross of Bit-Ta-Luk Farms in Carp says this farming season has been 'a challenge since day one.' (Andrew Foote/CBC)
"It's been a challenge since day one," said farmer Andrew Ross, surveying his soaked surroundings on the outskirts of Ottawa. "This field here has a giant lake in the middle, so everything that's there will die, and the other soy beans in the field are behind as well due to lack of sun and excess moisture."

There was record-breaking rainfall in Ottawa in May, and June saw above-average precipitation.

"If it continues this way, it's pretty easy to guess that it'll be a challenge balancing the books," said Ross.

Bags of unused corn and soy seeds are stacked at a nearby warehouse waiting to be sent back to the seed company because it's too late to get some crops planted this year.

Farmers' fields in Carp remain flooded after ongoing rain. (Andrew Foote/CBC)

'A difficult time'

"Bloody wet is the best way to describe it," said farmer Andy Terauds, at nearby Acorn Creek Garden Farm. 

"We're behind on most crops. Some haven't got in at all. It's just been a difficult time trying to get the clay soil dry enough to work up. And we get it just worked up, and it rains again, and we don't get the stuff in very well that way."

Andy Terauds of Acorn Creek Garden Farm has been able to make some money from produce grown in his greenhouses, but that won't make up for not being able to plant in the fields. (Andrew Foote/CBC)
While the rain doesn't puddle on his fields like it does on Ross's, it soaks the clay underneath, which hinders planting.

"When we bought into farming, we bought into mother nature at the same time. We have to be able to deal with it," said Terauds. 

"We have irrigation systems that help us out in dry weather. Trouble is there are no systems in place that help us out with wet weather."

Trying to stay optimistic

Terauds has been able to grow produce like tomatoes in his greenhouses to sell at markets across Ottawa to make some money. But that's not enough.

"We're hoping that the fall gives us the kind of crop we need to make ends meet by the end of the year," he said.

Ross is hoping for a two-week stretch of dry weather to get his fields back on track. But if the rest of the summer stays as wet as the spring?

"There's always next year, and we look forward to better years to come," he said.

Terauds shares the same attitude. "Farmers are optimistic people, and if they weren't, they wouldn't be farming."

Farmers haven't been able to plant crops in soaked fields. (Waubgeshig Rice/CBC)

With files from Andrew Foote