Summer Storms and Narrow Misses

By all accounts, there is a great looking crop out there.

In some form or another, most farmers around here have said these words, with the makings of an excellent year growing as each day goes by. With a few exceptions, growing conditions for the past month have been nothing short of excellent, helping to repair many of the problems the late, wet spring created. 

Some of our own crops are fantastic, such as this field of peas:

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The plants are lush and a deep green in colour, with beautiful white flowers growing from the tops of the plants, and long, thick pods growing below. There is great potential here, and most of our other fields are more of the same; lush, green, thick and healthy, such as this crop of canola:

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Any year a crop like this is out in the field, anxiety can be hard to master. We have narrowly missed two large storms over the past week, one on Saturday and one on Monday. The storm that rolled through some farms on Saturday can only be described as devastating. Hail the size of baseballs pummeled the ground, roaring out of the sky like meteors for a full half hour, shredding and flattening crops to the ground. Many fields are nothing more than a mass of flat, yellow-brown vegetation, utterly devoid of the life that existed only an hour before the black cloud arrived. Not only were fields destroyed, but trees, pasture and even birds were killed by the terrifying ferocity of a July supercell thunderstorm. Tornadoes touched down in multiple places, leaving destruction in their wake. From Weyburn to Pipestone, Manitoba widespread destruction can be found, with many farmers losing their entire crop. This cloud caused severe crop loss north of us, and didn’t miss us by much:

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Hail insurance can help. But imagine this analogy; you lose your job, suddenly, out of the blue. You receive an insurance payment that is about half of what your wage is, but enough to cover your basic living expenses. However, you cannot work again until a full year has passed by. Your insurance income must cover your needs for a full year, but it is only half of your normal wage! You can understand the stress and anxiety that would come from this, and the utter disappointment and frustration that loss would cause.

Luckily, so far we have missed the so-called “white combine”. But summer is not over; there are still at least two weeks of severe weather possibilities before we pass into the relative safety of August. Then, we just have to get the crop to maturity before a frost and get harvest completed before it rains or snows. 

Almost all of the money we will invest into this year’s crop has been invested. The risk is greatest now, because a total loss could severely damage our ability to farm again next year. But, if we weren’t optimists, believing the worst will not occur, why would we farm?

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