Pasture hasn’t recovered from Man. flooding

Diane Riding was planning to check her hayland on the weekend, but just couldn’t bring herself to do it.

“You get a little discouraged when you get out and look,” said Riding, a rancher who owns and rents land beside Lake Francis, which is attached to Lake Manitoba.

“I kept telling myself that the weather might get nice again and we might get out there, but I think we’re done for the year.”

As Riding spoke, 70 km-h winds whipped the lakes’ surface, causing surges that flooded land along the shoreline while taking water away from others.

The lake is still at flood level after huge amounts were transferred into it via the Portage Diversion from the Assiniboine River.

Massive amounts of water shift from one side to the other when sustained high winds hit the lake, exacerbating the situation for already flood-weary farmers.

That’s what Riding has faced since 2011, when the diversion caused the first big flooding of the lake.

The quarter section of pasture she owned on the lake as well a rented quarter were flooded and saturated that year and produced no hay.

The crown land would normally have produced 200 to 250 bales.

Production was OK on her owned pasture the following year, but the crown land yielded only 17 bales. Yields increased to 34 last year, and her neighbours joked that production might increase to 100 bales this year.

Everything looked good until the diversion started pumping water into Lake Manitoba after the late June-early July rainstorm. Water levels rose and delayed and killed the vegetative growth on the pastures.

“Now there’s nothing,” said Riding.

Farther north along the shoreline, Siglunes farmer Arnthor Jonasson is luckier. The high winds are forcing the water south, away from his flooded pasture and hayland.

However, it’s too late for grass to start growing on his wrecked land.

“We’re done for the year,” he said.

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