Overland flooding could slow seeding in parts of southern Alberta, says head of farmers' group

Overland flooding could slow seeding in parts of southern Alberta, says head of farmers' group

Farmers and ranchers in southern Alberta are trying to assess how ongoing, widespread flooding will affect this year's agricultural season.

Alberta Federation of Agriculture president Lynn Jacobson, who farms near Enchant, says the buildup of meltwater in some areas will likely affect seeding.

"Oh, it's going to delay things. We're not really going to get onto the land until around the first part of May," he said.

"It's going to be some serious work. In the meantime, people are going to be muddying it up out in the fields with their tractors trying to pull ditches and pump and do all that stuff, just to try to drain that water off."

He says the early May start is a few weeks later than usual in his district, which is about 200 kilometres southeast of Calgary.

But he says it's too early to tell whether it will affect farm revenue and overall operations this season.

Overland flooding has triggered states of emergency in several parts of southern Alberta in recent days as this year's unusually deep snowpack finally begins to melt.

Vulcan County became the latest to declare a state of emergency on Wednesday. States of local emergency are currently in effect for the Siksika First Nation, Forty Mile County and the Municipal District of Taber, which includes Enchant and the area where Jacobson farms.

Farther south in Cypress County an information alert remains in effect, but officials say the situation has stabilized.

The flooding is also hitting irrigation infrastructure in some areas.

Bow River Irrigation District general manager Richard Phillips says meltwater flows have damaged a spillway near the Oldman River and some smaller irrigation ditches.

He says they're still assessing the impact.

"There's a tremendous amount of flooding in the fields that is draining into our system, our canals, our drainage system."

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