Alberta Farm Damage Not ‘Widespread’ After Worst Flood on Record

By Jen Skerritt | June 29, 2013

Damage to farmland in southern Alberta is not “widespread” after the region’s worst floods on record, according to Katrina Bluetchen, a spokeswoman for the provincial agriculture ministry.

Reports collected by the ministry suggest most of the flooding in agricultural areas is along waterways and not over land, Bluetchen said yesterday in a telephone interview from Lethbridge, Alberta. Damage to crops will be limited, she said.

“It’s not going to be widespread, and it’s not going to be the kind of disaster we’re seeing in the towns,” Bluetchen said. “Not that it doesn’t affect rural Alberta, because those towns are a big part of agriculture in Alberta. That’s the big downside here today.”

Alberta accounts for 40 percent of Canada’s cattle herds and is also a grower of wheat and canola, among other crops, provincial data show. The provincial government has approved spending C$1 billion ($951 million) in the first phase of emergency recovery from the floods, according to a statement yesterday.

Gains in moisture may boost crops after dry conditions earlier this year, Stephen Vandervalk, Alberta’s vice-president of the Western Canadian Wheat Growers Association, said in a telephone interview from his farm southeast of Calgary. While he expects to lose as much as 3 percent of his durum, malt barley, canola and yellow mustard crop to flooding, Vandervalk said the rest of his acres will probably benefit from the rains.

Significant rainfall in many areas of Manitoba over the past several days may impact crops depending on their stage of growth and the duration of excessive moisture, the province’s agriculture ministry said in a report on June 24.

Manitoba Floods

Manitoba this week issued an overland flood warning for the northwest, Interlake and southwest regions of the province after as much as 107 millimeters (4 inches) of rain fell. Another 15 to 75 millimeters of precipitation is expected in the next few days, the province said.

“We had such a massive amount of rain in a few hours,” Murray Downing, a second-generation grains and oilseed farmer, said in a telephone interview from his 2,700-acre farm eight miles north of Reston, Manitoba. “When the water starts running, you just can’t control it.”

It’s still too wet to get into the fields to assess the crops, Downing said, though he estimates that 30 percent to 50 percent of his 1,800 canola acres have been damaged by excess moisture.

(Editors: Millie Munshi, Thomas Galatola)

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