Warren Sekulic's crops were flattened under the snow that fell on northern Alberta Wednesday, leaving him in disbelief and more than a little angry.

Warren Sekulic's crops were flattened under the snow that fell on northern Alberta Wednesday, leaving him in disbelief and more than a little angry.
Farmer Warren Sekulic experienced nearly the full spectrum of grief when snow blanketed his crops on Wednesday going from denial, anger, bargaining, to acceptance.

"You're a little bit in disbelief, a little bit angry," he said Thursday, adding, "A whole lot angry maybe. I'm a little younger so maybe I'm a little more hotheaded than my father."

A northern Alberta farmer situated about 70 kilometres north of Grande Prairie — an area which was forecasted to get 10 to 15 cm of snow Wednesday — Sekulic had only heard stories from his grandparents about snow showing up so early in September.

"You just have to accept it or you'll kind of go crazy," he said.

Sekulic isn't grieving his losses though. Bargaining on his ability to deal with mother nature's unrelenting attitude toward farmers — he's got to scramble to save what he can and said he's persevering.

The snow has seriously affected his canola and wheat crops, certainly downgrading his wheat from grade one or two, to a grade three or the "feed" classification — making their value much less.

"That's a significant hit to your bottom line, it's a significant discount," he said. "We will definitely have a significant loss in income."

And while he's got to start harvesting his crops, using the heavy machinery to do so will cause huge ruts in the wet ground. This will be a "significant problem" for next year while he gets the fields ready for planting again.

"When you have falls like this it's not just a one season issue, it's like a year process to get over it," said Sekulic.

Even if it warms up soon, he said, the damage to the quality of the crops is done. He's confident he can still get a harvest even if it's not to the high standard he'd banked on all summer.

It's an impact that could cause millions in lost revenue for farmers in northern Alberta, said Kevin Hoppins, board and chair with the United Farmers of Alberta Co-operative.

The cost is hard to estimate because of the various stages of growth different crops are at and the significant investment required to buy extra equipment to harvest crops flattened to the earth by snow, he said.

"The biggest thing about a snowfall on a crop that is yet to be harvested, no matter where you live, is the unmeasurable amount of stress it puts on us as producers in something we take great pride in," he said.

A teacher likes to see a passing student, a politician — the passing of a bill, but for a farmer it's the growing of a crop and its successful harvest that gives producers a feeling that is "unexplainable," said Hoppins.

"So it creates a huge amount of stress on producers to have to see all their work sitting there under the snow wondering and waiting if we're ever gonna get it," he said, but added that where he is in the south, they only got a little bit.

He's often asked if farmers have insurance to cover events like this and he always responds that they do, but their job is to feed people and insurance doesn't cover that.

"The insurance doesn't feed the world and although it does protect the farmers, we really, truly do love to harvest a beautiful crop," he said.