Dorian's winds batter P.E.I. crops

P.E.I. farmers have been assessing the damage from post-tropical storm Dorian.

Damage to crops varied

Patrick Dunphy checks out the flattened corn fields in Guernsey Cove, P.E.I. (Julien LeCacheur/CBC)

P.E.I. farmers have been assessing the damage from post-tropical storm Dorian.

Patrick Dunphy of Valley View Farming Company is in his 11th year of farming but says he has never seen anything like the damage to his corn from the weekend.

He got a heads up Saturday, during the storm.

"I have some friends that live in this area and they were out driving around and texted some pictures to me and I knew then that we were in real trouble," Dunphy said.

Dunphy said about a 405 of his 648 hectares of corn have been flattened.

Dunphy got a heads up from friends on Saturday during the storm that the corn was being hit hard. (Julien LeCacheur/CBC)

It's not a total loss — yet.

"It can't collect the rays of the sun properly when it's laying down," Dunphy said.

"So it is possible that that crop, even though it may not die, it may never reach maturity or reach the yield potential that it could have been if it was standing straight like it should be."

Dunphy says the corn can't collect the rays of the sun properly. (Julien LeCacheur/CBC)

Dunphy said crop insurance could cover some of the losses, but not all.

If he can't salvage the corn, it will be about a $400,000 loss for the farm.

"Best case scenario, this crop makes it to maturity and we can harvest them and sell that grain," Dunphy said.

"We're still going to look at a loss of some sort because we're never going to get a 100 per cent yield potential out of this crop anymore."

Matthew Compton says they will have to reschedule some events on the farm because of the damage from Dorian. (Tom Steepe/CBC)

Matthew Compton, owner of Compton's vegetable stand in Summerside, was also assessing the damage from Dorian.

"It levelled our sweet corn field, it levelled our corn maze, we still have 100 acres of wheat to harvest, and it flattened it pretty good," Compton said. 

 "It's still harvestable, but just everything will be more work now."

Wind damage

Potato growers are reporting lots of torn leaves and broken stems across the Island, and trees down in and around fields.

Many haven't been into their fields yet because they are still wet, so there could still be more damage.

Potato growers are reporting lots of torn leaves and broken stems across the Island, like these plants in Mount Mellick, P.E.I. (Submitted by Jason Hayden)

With winds blowing over 90 km/h for hours on end, and heavy rains, P.E.I. Federation of Agriculture president David Mol said all crops will be feeling some impact.

"Nothing that's subjected to hours of hard wind is not going to be adversely affected," said Mol.

"At least the barley crop was off, and the barley crop would be a crop that would have been the most vulnerable to high winds. The spring wheat harvest is about halfway through and I was speaking to a couple of farmers who felt that the crop is certainly salvageable."

David Mol describes his soybean fields as a tangled mess, with 70 to 80 per cent of the plants affected. (Shane Hennessey/CBC)

Mol said the worst damage he is hearing about is in the east, where the wind was stronger. He expects potato fields will have fared reasonably well.

He said he has three soybean fields that are bent over, but he is hoping they will recover.

Mol holds a broken stalk of wheat. He estimates he will lose about 10 per cent of his wheat crop and it will take longer to harvest because of the damage. (Shane Hennessey/CBC)

Randy Drenth, who has about 50 hectares of corn in Summerfield, estimates his yield will be down at least 10 to 15 per cent.

"It's a combination of the wind and the rain," said Drenth.

Corn flattened by Hurricane Dorian in P.E.I. Farmers in Nova Scotia and P.E.I. are grappling with damage of the storm that they say will run into the thousands of dollars. (Randy Drenth)

"The wind knocked some corn over and broke some stalks, but the combination with the rain we've seen some defoliation and damaged leaves, which is going to hurt the crops as well."

The damage will also cause problems with the harvest. Corn harvesters are designed to run down neat rows, and those have been blown apart by the storm.

More P.E.I. news

With files from Island Morning, Julien LeCacheur and Tom Steepe


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