Snowmobilers and ATVers are advised to stay off farm fields this winter as the region’s farmers wait until spring to harvest their crops.
Producers faced a cool, wet season this year, with much of this year’s crop still on the fields. Regional district directors called this season a disaster for the agriculture industry and voted Thursday to write the provincial government and advocate for supports.
“Due to the unfavorable weather conditions, many farmers were not able to harvest their crops and they will remain in the fields until they can be harvested in the spring,” the regional district said in a public notice Friday.
“Driving snowmobiles and other recreational vehicles on the crops will damage them, resulting in fewer crops being viable in the spring. If you need to get around a field, choose to drive around the edges than through the middle of the field.”
Most of the region’s canola crop has been swathed and harvest will take place in the spring. The majority of cereal crops have been downgraded in quality as a result of late maturity, moisture, and early frost. A large portion went unswathed and at risk of higher over-winter losses.
A special board meeting with producer groups will be held Nov. 27. The regional district says it has not declared an agricultural emergency at this time.
“The agriculture community is a disaster; and this will carry forward from 2019 to 2020,” electoral director Karen Goodings said Thursday.
“We need to let the province know this is a huge concern. It’s not just the grain producers, it’s everybody.”
Average temperatures in the Fort St. John area were nearly a full degree below average this summer, at 14.3 C. The airport weather station recorded 224 millimetres of rain between June and August, up from a three-month average of 192 millimetres.
The poor weather was a challenge for farmers across the Peace region — the County of Grande Prairie declared an agricultural disaster earlier this month.
Email Managing Editor Matt Preprost at firstname.lastname@example.org
[Reader's Note: The PRRD has clarified that it will meet with producer groups on November 27, not Nov. 28 as first reported.]