Well September, you sure weren’t yourself this year. The warm, sunny, dry, harvest days you usually provide happened ever so briefly the first week you were here. Then the rains, which we had longed for all spring and summer, came pouring down, bringing a sudden halt to harvest for the remainder of the month. What was up with that?
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that we didn’t appreciate you bringing some much-needed moisture to our drought-stricken area of Manitoba. But you really threw us a curve ball. Over three times the amount of rain we had all growing season – in your brief 30 days here – was, well… badly timed.
If only you could have relinquished, at least a portion of, those excessive rains to May, June and July. You must know those are the ever-important formative months of growth for plants.
Didn’t you see us watching the skies in dire hopelessness, praying for moisture, as our crops and hay lands struggled to grow and thrive? It was heartbreaking to see pastures dry up from excessive heat and lack of moisture, creeks run dry and river levels at record lows. Not sure if you caught the news, but 12 municipalities across Manitoba declared an agriculture state of emergency as drought and grasshoppers hindered crops.
So September, you can understand our disappointment and frustration, when you come along and completely shut down what little harvest we had with your heavy rains, hail, and in some parts of the Prairies – snow.
It’s not that we’re ungrateful to you for restoring soil moisture and bring- ing pastures back to life for livestock in drought-stricken areas, but you got a little carried away with the “second wettest September in 150 years.” And snow? That was just mean.
You’re right, you’re right. Not all farmers are in the same boat. Some of us did manage to get all, or most of, our wheat and canola in the bins. Yes, others, in parts of the Prairies where rains were more timely during the growing season, had healthier crops and better yields. But do you have any idea how difficult it is to sit and watch a bountiful crop deteriorate in quality and value from too much rain and snow? Or be totally decimated in a hailstorm?
It might be hard for you to understand, but our income is totally dependent on the weather. The timing of weather events is crucial for our crops to thrive and be harvested. When one or several months don’t deliver what is required, the toll it takes on farmers, and their families, is financially, emotionally and even physically exhausting. And I’m sorry to say, September, but you added even more stress, anxiety and worry, which we really didn’t expect. After all, you are normally the driest month.
To date, October is following your lead with cloudy, dreary days, albeit with a little less rain. And now, as I write this, snow is in the forecast. But we still need a few weeks of warm, sunny, dry weather.
Just take a look around. Potato and vegetable growers are struggling in the mud trying to salvage their crop before frost hits and destroys them as happened last year. There’s a hay shortage. It’s critical for livestock producers to get their silage made, and secure any other available feed and straw to ensure they can care for their animals over the winter months. And surely you see all the wheat, canola, soybeans, sunflowers, corn and many other crops still in the field.
So much food is waiting to be harvested across the Prairies. Some of it deteriorating beyond the point of being salvaged. So many resources have gone into growing it all. You might not be able to see the stress and turmoil the caretakers of those crops are going through, but with each passing day, it grows.
I know. What’s done is done. You’re sorry you were off your usual harvest-weather game this year. So what do I want you to do about it now?
Well, could you pass on a message to the rest of October. Please ask for a long stretch of decent harvest weather. The farmers of Western Canada could really use a break.