It’s not unheard of to have snowfall in September in Alberta, but it is very rare. The last time it snowed in September was 10 years ago to the day, but that was only in Edmonton and it was about 2″ over 2 days. It was about 25ºC (that’s 77ºF for my American friends) on Sunday and then on Monday we dropped 20º down to 5ºC (41ºF) with heavy, wet snow. We’re estimating that we’ve had 8+” of snow fall thus far and it’s still snowing as I type this. Not only is it disheartening to see loads of the white stuff in a month where we’ve been known to have temperatures reach over 30ºC, but this adds a whole other stressor to finishing harvest this year.
Luckily for us we have 1/3 of our crops off when some of our neighbours and fellow Albertans haven’t even had the chance to start harvest yet. It seems this year a lot of crops have been either hailed out or snowed out. The weather has not been kind to farmers, yet again proving why it requires faith like a mustard seed to be a farmer.
I asked the farmer what he thought about the remaining crops and he said “crop prices are down, yields are down, quality is down…and now the crop is down.” I cannot even express how downright sad this is to see our wheat crops flattened to the ground. The pictures I tried to take just don’t do it justice.
A lot of people have asked me, when I’ve shared snowy pictures on Facebook and Instagram, how this affects the rest of harvest for us. To elaborate on what Jay said, wheat usually stands up tall making it easy for the combine to harvest it. As it was with yields this year and the lack of moisture when we needed it, the crops didn’t grow like we’d hoped and we were just breaking even with the cost of how much it is to plant the crop and how much wheat is selling for right now. With the snow laying the wheat down flat to the ground, this is going to be substantially harder for the combines to “pick it up” off the ground to harvest it. Essentially we’re going to spend 50% more time combining and have more risk for plugging the combine, damaging the combine, cutting our speed almost in half and the quality of wheat will go down because of moisture damage—it’s truly a big loss in revenue.
To all the armchair farmers out there who think they know better than us and how we could be farming better and more ‘sustainably’: this is our real life. These are the risks we take growing crops to help feed the world. But? It’s our life and our passion and we wouldn’t trade it for anything.