Farmers, communities continue to tally damage from floods

Southern Saskatchewan residents continue to tally the effects of last week’s heavy rain, which took a toll on crops and communities.

The low-pressure system stalled in the grain belt from July 11-13, pounding some areas with up to 130 millimetres of rain.

The Estevan area was hard hit, as was the area reaching north and east from Melfort.

Shannon Friesen, acting cropping management specialist at the Ag Knowledge Centre in Moose Jaw, said an estimate was not available on how many acres were affected.

“A lot of the lodged cereals have bounced back, which is good,” she said July 18. “But the pulses may not be in the greatest shape.”

Reports are now coming in of disease concerns, including sclerotinia and botrytis, which she wouldn’t normally expect to see for another week or two.

The hay crop, if cut and lying in the field, will likely suffer weathering and nutrient losses, said regional forage specialist Rachel Turnquist.

“It’s going to be tough to get it to dry down,” she said. “We were having a fairly normal year before this.”

Standing hay will likely be in better shape but could start to lose quality if it over- matures from standing too long, she said.

“We aim to cut at 10 percent bloom,” she said.

After that, the fibre goes up and protein and digestibility start to go down.

“Be patient,” she advised producers. “Don’t get out there and bale too wet.”

Arle Nelson, a producer from Hallonquist, said there were reports of as much as 180 mm of rain west of his farm and running through Wiwa Creek. He said it was reminiscent of the 2000 flood that devastated nearby Vanguard and was the highest creek level in years.

However, the creek was clearing the water quickly and his flooded hay might be OK.

“I really don’t know. But now I could have pieces of wood and fence posts in the high hay,” he said.

Environment Canada said the 48-hour period beginning the morning of July 11 produced 119 mm of rain in Bjorkdale, 112 mm in Pennant and 104 mm in both Zenon Park and an area east of Watrous. The Estevan rain of 130 mm came the day before.

Most regions reported at least 25 mm.

While many in the southwest will take any rain they can, the southeast and northeast have likely had enough.

At least one farmer in the southeast, near Lampman, has reported losing 13 quarters of crop to the series of rain storms that pelted the area.

In the northeast, a road holding back water about 14 kilometres south of Arborfield gave way after a culvert couldn’t move the water fast enough, leading to an evacuation, many flooded homes and a state of emergency.

Local emergencies were also declared in Estevan, Carrot River, the Rural Municipality of Arborfield, Shoal Lake Cree Nation and Red Earth Cree Nation.

Water levels have since been receding, leaving a mess to clean up but allowing evacuees to return home.

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