Part of Brad May’s field turns into a lake when the Salmon River flooded its banks this spring. - Image credit: Photo contributed

Flooding aftermath felt by farmers

Level of high water never experienced before by longtime farmers.

Salmon River flooding may be over but the effects on local farmers are not.

Brad May’s property at 2650 50th St. SW sits on the bottom of the Salmon River Valley and, accordingly, the river runs through it.

This year, however, there was much more ‘running through it’ than wanted.

May is a dairy farmer with about 80 acres of land on both sides of the river.

“The river came up and it flooded everywhere. We had about 60 acres under water… Usually we have five or 10 with some seepage… It was flowing right through the fields on both sides of the river, one end to another. ”

He says the water was high for so long, it killed everything submerged. On the bright side, the new three- or four-acre lake did provide a little kayaking fun for his kids.

There will be some financial loss in terms of lost crops and potential sale of feed, but May remains positive and says he has enough feed stored so he won’t have to buy anything.

“Everything for me is about a month behind schedule, as for planting corn and getting my first crop off,” he says, adding he’ll need to replant about 40 acres of alfalfa grass.

He explains that alfalfa is normally replanted every four to six years, and wasn’t due for planting. Also, the planting time is off, as alfalfa is usually planted in spring or later in summer or in fall.

The corn land is a little different, he says, as it was planted a bit later and is planted every year.

May says the 60 acres have just dried up now, so he hopes to reseed.

“I can put in a cereal crop or something for this year and get something out of it.”

He points out that he’s been on the property for 30 years and has never seen a lake form before.

Neither his cattle nor his barns or home were reached, though.

“If the water came up that high, the town would be in trouble. It’s just all field damage.”

Between May’s place and the Salmon River Bridge is Rodger DeMille’s property, so the water flowed through May’s land into DeMille’s.

DeMille began farming in Salmon Arm in 1969 and says he missed the floods of 1949.

“I’ve never seen it that high. We were just lucky we didn’t get a heavy downpour of rain.”

He’s noticed he used to see high water about every five years; now it’s almost every year.

He suspects he’ll experience about a 20 per cent loss this year.

The sweet corn won’t be ready until about the 15th of August, he predicts, while it’s usually ready in the first week of August. That will cut the selling season.

“I’m not a doom and gloomer,” he’s quick to add. “You just do what you can do.”

DeMille says it’s likely that less hay will be available in the area for horse owners.

“We should be into our second cut now and we’ve just finished the first.”