The hail that hammered Saskatchewan’s northeast earlier this month left local farmers with fewer crops and tighter margins.
Guy McCrea, who manages a farm near Zenon Park, about 250 kilometres northeast of Saskatoon, said the effects the storm were not immediately clear as it whipped through the area on July 2.
He guessed the storms could cut his canola crop from about 60 bushels per acre down to 40. Now he’s realized anywhere from 10 to 100 per cent of his fields might have been affected.
“We’ve got some fields that are completely gone, and we’ve got some fields that were just barely touched,” he said.
The storm’s path ranged from Melfort to Star City and Tisdale. That said, it likely hit Arborfield and Carrot River the hardest, said Kim Stonehouse, a crops extension specialist with the Ministry of Agriculture based in Tisdale.
He said it could be another week before insurance adjusters have a confident picture of the storm’s effects.
For farmers like McCrea, July hail in the area is rare. He didn’t buy hail insurance because it is so uncommon and his land is spread out, which reduces the chances of a bad year. After the storm, he was left adjusting his budget as his crops recovered.
“Every year we try to upgrade some piece of equipment, just trying to stay ahead of the game. We won’t be doing anything this year,” he said. “It’s going to be a tight, really tight for us this year.”
Arborfield farmer Ryan Edwards estimates the storm affected about 20 per cent of his land, but he guessed others in the area could have 50 per cent or more land affected. He said it would take weeks or months to repair the wind damage his farm suffered.
He says his harvest will also likely be delayed, which puts it at higher risk of frost damage in the fall.
“Hail damage affects everybody’s bottom line, huge,” he said; and between feed, fertilizer and equipment costs “we’re running on razor thin margins as it is.”
Kris Mayerle, who runs a farm near Tisdale, agreed there would be lost revenues from lower yields. Some of his crops will recover, but it was hard to tell which ones.
“My dad’s 78 years old, farmed here his whole life, (and) said he’s never seen a hailstorm like that in his career,” he said, noting he also didn’t have insurance when the storm hit.
Mayerle said it affected a third of his acres — and he doesn’t yet know what else the summer might have in store for him.
“As farmers, we can do everything right, but we can’t control the weather,” he said. “So we don’t know what else is coming.”