Farmers across Saskatchewan struggled with extreme weather conditions this summer, but vegetable farmers had more of a mixed year.
Farms that had access to an irrigation system did well, whereas those that didn't had a harder time, according to Emile Marquette, the president of the Saskatchewan Vegetable Growers Association.
"Any other growers that don't have access [to irrigation], it's either been a disaster or a real struggle," he said.
Irrigation system running non-stop
The drought was incredibly challenging for the Spring Creek Garden farm near Outlook. Local farmer Chelsea Erlandson said her irrigation pivot system was running six to 16 hours a day because of the intense heat.
"We are very lucky to be growing in a district that had the irrigation available. If we didn't have that, this year would have been a nightmare," she said.
She said you can't grow vegetables without a reliable source of water.
The farm is located close to Outlook, which she said is the irrigation capital of Saskatchewan.
Good for the most part
David Marit, Saskatchewan's Minister of Agriculture, said for the most part this year has been good for vegetable farmers.
"All the vegetables grown in this province are virtually either in greenhouses or under irrigation," said Marit.
He said the harvest was pretty good for vegetable growers because they had a long fall, with some of the harvest still underway.
Marit also said the outlook for the vegetable farmers seems to be positive heading into the future. He said the pandemic seemed to have insipred consumers to buy locally grown products.
Marit said that although the harvest has been good for the most part, there may be some areas like Lumsdem which may have had trouble with getting access to water for their crops.
Farmer scaling back
Dennis Skoworodko struggled with getting access to water for crops at his farm in Saskatoon. He said he had an average yield this year, but it took an incredible amount of expense and effort. Skoworodko had to pay $9,000 to haul water for his crops.
Usually the farm irrigates water from a well, but Skoworodko said it couldn't keep up with high water demand.
He said he would be hauling water from 4:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.
Skoworodko said spending so much money on water is not sustainable for the farm heading into the future.
He said there is now zero sub-soil moisture, and he's concerned for the next growing season.
He said he made the decision to grow fewer vegetables next year just in case he doesn't receive enough moisture over the winter and summer.