Wet snow is drenching crops but some Alberta farmers hold out hope for clear skies

September has been wet, snowy and cold but some northern Alberta farmers say there’s still time for a successful harvest — if dryer weather comes.

“There’s nothing we can do,” said Michael Kalisvaar, who runs Kalco Farms, a grain operation near Gibbons, Alta.

“When it’s this wet, the combine, the harvesting comes to a complete standstill. We need relatively dry weather to even get the material through the machines, so we’re just left waiting here for better weather.”

Kalisvaar, speaking on CBC’s Radio Active on Monday, noted the quality of grain products will go down the longer they’re exposed to cold, frosty weather.

The lowest quality of grain can only be sold as feed for livestock.

September often brings inclement weather in Alberta and Kalisvaar said he has no choice but to hope for clear, dry skies in the coming weeks.

“Being a farmer, you’re going to be a little bit optimistic and say, ‘We still have time,'” he said.

Farmers can also invest in high-tech solutions to ease through the wet patches. Dryers can help take some of the moisture out of crops once they’ve been cut — but it needs to be dry enough to do that initial harvest in the first place.

Being a farmer, you’re going to be a little bit optimistic and say, ‘We still have time.’– Michael Kalisvaar

Crop lifters can also help.

“It will take extra time and extra specialized equipment that farmers may need to go out and purchase to get this crop off,” said Kevin Hoppins, the board chair for United Farmers of Alberta Co-operative.

“(Crops) that usually stand a metre high, are now laying flat on the ground.”

Hoppins, a fourth-generation farmer, acknowledged that farmers carry insurance — but it doesn’t totally make up for the losses a farmer will incur through a terrible season, he said. The insurance also doesn’t compensate for the ripple effects that a poor farming season can have in rural communities.

Freezing rain and snow have been pouring down on much of northern Alberta through September. (Brett Ruskin/CBC)

“When farmers struggle and the crop doesn’t come off in the quality they like, it’s quite obvious their income is less. And when income is less, spending is less. In rural communities, if we don’t make money, we don’t spend money.”

Hoppins added that insurance also doesn’t compensate for the lost pride.

“There’s a huge sense of pride in farmers and ranchers in Alberta. When we plant a crop, we want to harvest it. There’s nothing more enjoyable than harvesting a beautiful, perfect crop,” he said.

“It’s really hard for farmers and ranchers when they don’t get that ability to do what they really and truly love to do.”

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Sherwood Park

Sherwood Park is a large hamlet in Alberta, Canada within Strathcona County that is recognized as an urban service area.[7] It is located adjacent to the City of Edmonton’s eastern boundary,[8] generally south of Highway 16 (Yellowhead Trail), west of Highway 21 and north of Highway 630 (Wye Road).[9] Other portions of Sherwood Park extend beyond Yellowhead Trail and Wye Road, while Anthony Henday Drive (Highway 216) separates Refinery Row to the west from the balance of the hamlet to the east.[9]

Sherwood Park was established in 1955 on farmland of the Smeltzer family, east of Edmonton. With a population of 70,618 in 2016,[6] Sherwood Park has enough people to be Alberta’s seventh largest city, but technically retains the status of a hamlet. The Government of Alberta recognizes the Sherwood Park Urban Service Area as equivalent to a city.


Sherwood Park, originally named Campbelltown, was founded by John Hook Campbell and John Mitchell in 1953 when the Municipal District of Strathcona No. 83 approved their proposed development of a bedroom community east of Edmonton. The first homes within the community were marketed to the public in 1955. Canada Post intervened on the name of Campbelltown due to the existence of several other communities in Canada within the same name, so the community’s name was changed to Sherwood Park in 1956.

The Sherwood Park Urban Service Area is located in the Edmonton Capital Region along the western edge of central Strathcona County adjacent to the City of Edmonton.[8] The majority of the community is bound by Highway 16 (Yellowhead Highway) to the north, Highway 21 to the east, Highway 630 (Wye Road) to the south, and Anthony Henday Drive (Highway 216) to the west. The Refinery Row portion of Sherwood Park is located across Anthony Henday Drive to the west, between Sherwood Park Freeway and Highway 16. Numerous developments fronting the south side of Wye Road, including Wye Gardens, Wye Crossing, Salisbury Village and the Estates of Sherwood Park, are also within the community. Lands north of Highway 16 and south of Township Road 534/Oldman Creek between Range Road 232 (Sherwood Drive) to the west and Highway 21 to the east are also within the Sherwood Park urban service area.

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