Good heat, no bugs and timely rain raising the spirits of Edmonton-area farmers

After an abysmal harvest dampened by a September snowfall, the current growing season is encouraging for farmers in the Edmonton area.

As rain falls off and on, Mike Wedman spends a rare weekday on the road away from his farm.

Continuous rain over the past three days may be a downer for some but Wedman is pretty happy about it. His crops — wheat, canola, peas, malt, oats and barley, all planted near Devon, Alta., 25 kilometres southwest of Edmonton — could use the moisture.

“Couldn’t ask for better growing conditions for right now. No bugs, that’s the other thing,” Wedman said. “It’s been quite nice watching everything proceed in the fields.”

Mike Wedman (right) and his father Dave stand in their field near Devon, Alta., in September 2017. (Travis McEwan/CBC)

Although heavy rain keeps farmers off their fields, it allows time for indoor work or running errands.

Michael Kalisvaart, owner of Kalco Farms near Gibbons, spent the day doing renovations on his horse ranch as the rain fell. His crops in Sturgeon County are thriving.

“Feeling pretty good about things. Conditions are almost ideal,” Kalisvaart said. “We started out the season fairly dry which was helpful for a quick and efficient planting. And since then we’ve actually had fairly timely rains.”

Both farmers are feeling optimistic after a couple of harvests that have been less than ideal for central Alberta farmers. In September, snow fell early and continued throughout the month.

This led to farmers being forced to keep their crops on longer than expected, as the fields were too wet for equipment. It’s happened a few times over the past three years.

“It really affected the quality of our crops,” Kalisvaart said. “A lot of people did not even finish and had to finish this spring, including ourselves.”

Canola grows at Kalco Farms near Gibbons, Alta. (Michael Kalisvaart)

Early indications are a good sign for Wedman.

“In the last couple of days it’s been growing like crazy,” Wedman said. “I talked to a couple friends and they can’t believe how fast everything is growing, before this rain.

Both men admit their currently sunny outlook could change in the fall when the big payoff happens at harvest.


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