A sense of urgency is being felt among farmers getting ready to put seed in the ground.

With COVID-19 restrictions, and perhaps even a chance of flooding, farmers are spending more time strategizing.

“Fortunately, I think Manitoba is in fairly good stead when it comes to crop protection and fertilizer seed,” says Artel Farms owner Grant Dyck, “but there’s certainly concern about the in-season supply chain.”

Stricter protocol in the trucking industry could have an effect on farmers who are already dealing with getting fertilizer down and other fieldwork because of last autumn’s weather conditions. Neither of these issues addresses concerns as related to a farmer’s own staff however.

Grant Dyck with his wife Colleen and four children

“Our team is made up of folks in Manitoba,” shares Dyck, “so it looks like as long as we follow protocol and really open communication, we’re confident we can keep the wheel turning here.”

Delays in travel are also risking those that require landed migrant labour. Something Dyck says may not be quite as prevalent in Manitoba as in other parts of Canada where produce requires closer working quarters and greater numbers of staff.

“On the grain side of things, larger equipment and fewer people covering the ground” assist in keeping with governmental mandates.

Dyck is watching but is not yet worried about flooding, citing the forecast and the flood of ’97 when a couple feet of snow fell in late April. “The melt has been good, we got 20 cm and that’s like an inch of water, so that takes a week to melt."

Still, other issues are on his mind, including pollinators for canola and other common crops in the area. “Most of the bees that come in to replace winter kill would be coming up from the States, and now with the border situation the way it is because of quarantine, that’s definitely a concern.”

With no idea how long these measures will last, much of the planning is a preliminary to the unknown. “Some of the reports of 6 months or 12 months, who knows how long this could drag out, and we’re just talking seeding right now, never mind harvest.”

Through it all, Dyck has kept an even keel while remaining very aware of the realities.

“There are a lot of ‘what ifs’ here yet in the next few weeks if we don’t get this under some control”