Frost, not floods, an issue for farmers

By Lynn Macnab 

Recent rains and overflowing rivers have some people wondering if farmers are concerned about getting into the fields.

“That’s not our biggest concern,” says dairy farmer Kenny O’Shea at Glen Norman. “The frost, ice and snow we had this year are far worse than the water in the fields.”

O’Shea milks about 50 cows and farms along the river east of Alexandria. Their home and barn borders the water that rose to extreme levels this spring.

Dairy farmer Kenny O’Shea of Glen Norman points out winter damage to hay fields. (Lynn Macnab)

Although some Lancaster, Rigaud and Alexandria farm fields were barely visible because of all the water, area farmers are more concerned about winter frost than high water levels.

O’Shea isn’t that worried about water levels and getting into the field. He’s more concerned about his pastures.

“By the looks of the weather, we’ll be OK with the moisture for crops,” O’Shea says. “It’s the damage to hay fields that will be a problem.”

The father of four who has most of his family working with him on the farm said the winter weather really hurt the hay crops. “You can see where there’s no green in that field. That’s because of the winter damage,” he said.

He explains how ice and frost for a long period of time damage the perennial grass.

“We plant corn and soybean every year so the winter weather has little effect,” he said. “Hay, pasture and grasses are different.”

David and Andrew MacMillan milk cows near Lochinvar and agree that the problem this year will be the effect of the weather on their hay fields, and not so much about the corn and soybean.

The MacMillan family recently won the Master’s Breeder Shield for it’s excellent herd of Holsteins and rely on hay to feed their cattle.

“It might be a problem this year. We need the availability and quality of hay,” said David MacMillan. “We predict it could be a tough year because of the rough winter weather, but we always manage.”

O’Shea agrees. “We’ll get through it somehow. We always do.”

 

Photos: Dairy farmer Kenny O’Shea of Glen Norman points out winter damage to hay fields.

Flooding near Alexandria and Dalkeith concerns residents.


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