Drought withers crops, stresses Sask. farm­ers

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - OBITUARIES/NEWS -

The ground is so dry and deeply cracked on Todd Lewis’s farm in south­ern Saskatchewan that he says if a wrench is dropped down one of the crevasses, “we’ll never find it.”

“If you dropped a rod down there that was eight or nine feet long, you wouldn’t hit the bot­tom of that crack,” Lewis told The Cana­dian Press. “It would dis­ap­pear.”

Lewis, who is also pres­i­dent of the Agri­cul­tural Pro­duc­ers As­so­ci­a­tion of Saskatchewan, farms near Gray south of Regina, and the re­gion has been ex­tremely dry.

En­vi­ron­ment Canada fig­ures show Regina had only 1.8 mil­lime­tres of rain last month — the dri­est July in 130 years.

It was the dri­est July ever recorded in the city of Moose Jaw, about 70 kilo­me­tres west of Regina. Moose Jaw got 4.3 mil­lime­tres of rain in July, less than the 4.6 mil­lime­tres it got in 1929.

It was also hot.

Regina had 11 days over 30 C in July. The city of Swift Cur­rent, about 245 kilo­me­tres west of Regina, saw 14 days over 30 C.

Lewis said canola is tak­ing the hard­est hit be­cause of the heat and might only yield half the crop of an av­er­age year.

“We’re al­ways op­ti­mistic be­ing in­volved in agri­cul­ture, but re­ally we’re go­ing to have a down year, no ques­tion,” he said.

But Lewis said ar­eas south and west of his farm are in “a pretty des­per­ate sit­u­a­tion.”

Ranch­ers in south­ern Saskatchewan are also fac­ing poor graz­ing con­di­tions and have scaled back hay cut­ting be­cause of the hot, dry weather.

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