The recent string of weather across central Alberta has affected some farmers more than others. Starting in the spring with drought conditions, and then what seemed like a never-ending amount of rain, hail and now heat warnings, it can be hard to keep up with what Mother Nature will do next.
Marc Dubielew, who operates a small farm west of Bluffton, said farmers in his area have been hit hard.
Dubielew said the first cuts of hay, which was cut mid-July, were very minimal. This first cut was planted in May, but the conditions were so dry that the hay had a hard time starting out.
Crops planted in the middle or end of May also suffered, thanks to too much rain in June.
Although Dublielew’s farm was spared from the hailstorm that blew through the area recently, other farmers near him weren’t so lucky and some were wiped out.
“I’m hoping we can come out of it with enough feed for the cows for the winter,” Dubielew said. “If we don’t, we’re either going to have to buy some or get rid of some cows.”
Last year was hot and dry – not ideal growing conditions either. Dubielew said last year, thanks to a shortage, hay was selling for around $240 a bale, when it normally sells for $60 to $80 a bale. This year, hay is sitting at around $100 a bale.
“It’s a tough time to be a farmer,” he said. “A lot of people had to dump cows last year.”
Murray Ormberg, a retired farmer who lives about four miles southeast of Rimbey, has three properties he rents out for farming – his place near Rimbey, land near Forshee and half a section west of Bluffton.
Ormberg said the land he has near Rimbey is doing well. In fact, the hot weather that’s currently beating down on central Alberta will be prime time for haying.
“The hay is late,” Ormberg said. “But this weather is excellent for putting up hay.”
However, the land Ormberg rents out near Bluffton has not been spared.
“The crop were damaged,” Ormberg said of the recent hailstorm. “They might be able to salvage some feed. Most of the time, after a hailstorm, depending on severity, usually you can salvage some feed. But not always.”
“The input costs for a farmer have skyrocketed and our margins are so small now,” said Ormberg. “Any hail or frost or whatever could be detrimental.”
Ormberg said he believes farms around Rimbey are doing well. Closer to Bluffton, Leslieville and north of Ponoka have seen quite a bit of damage.
“Hail is no respecter of persons,” said Ormberg. “And it makes the rich poor.”
Allen Olson, who farms a few thousand acres in the Rimbey area with his sons, has been seeing similar results.
“Every farmer will be different,” said Olson. “Some of the cereal crops, there could be some silage taken off some of them. But for some of the farmers, there’s nothing left, so it will be disastrous for them. Hopefully they have it insured.”