Fierce storms spur potato crop damage claim for Seth Pascoe

June is typically the stormy month on the prairies and it was certainly the case this season.

I witnessed an electrical storm one evening with lightning so frequent and intense you almost needed to wear sunglasses. A 10-minute shower of golf ball-sized hail was enough to cause a crop insurance claim for 20% defoliation in our field of Shepody potatoes. It also made an impressive collection of dents in one of the farm pickup trucks.

What was quite remarkable was the localised intensity of the storms. A neighbour saw 75mm of rain fall in less than an hour on a field of oilseed rape, yet an adjacent field of wheat remained practically dry. Thankfully, our 75ha of first-cut Timothy hay fell into the latter category and we were able to bale up some premium quality forage.

After being rudely awoken by one particularly noisy thunderstorm, I got up and determinedly aquaplaned my way through the storm to go and shut off a pivot irrigator on some potatoes. However, upon approaching the field, to my complete surprise there was no storm. The gravel road was bone dry and the moon was shining brightly.

With the peak storm season behind us, we are now in full swing with irrigation. It has become apparent to me that I have an annual involuntary irrigation tradition here. It seems that at any given point of time in irrigation season I take a dunk into some part of the irrigation infrastructure. In my first year, it was a pondweed-infested reservoir and last season, an irrigation canal. This unfortunate ritual has sadly led to the demise of two mobile phones thus far. I nervously anticipate this season’s upcoming mishap – it’s only a matter of time!

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