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FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. — The recent droughts in the Peace region have brought a new element of risk to grain farmers in the area. 

Malcolm Odermatt, a local farmer and the president of the B.C. Grain Producers Association, said the drought was something none of the farmers expected.

“This spring was incredibly wet, and we were late. We put the crop in later than normal,” Odermatt said. “Then everything dried out so fast we were harvesting earlier than usual.” 

The drought goes further than simply forcing an early harvest. Odermatt found that the soil remained dry even after digging down fifteen feet, which he called “bizarre”.

With soil moisture being this low, Odermatt said this brings more risk to their grain crops for next year. 

Furthermore, Odermatt said farms in the Peace are what he calls “rain-fed,” meaning they do not rely on any irrigation or auxiliary water sources. This means that without the rain, their grain crops don’t get water. 

“Farming is already risky, but now we have high input prices and hardly [any] moisture,” Odermatt said.

According to the Canadian Drought Monitor’s report of October 2022, the Fort St. John area is in a moderate drought. This is defined as a drought event that occurs once every three to five years.

Many communities in the northeast, including Fort St. John, have been encouraged to conserve water. However, no water restrictions have been put in place yet.

The Peace River region is not alone in experiencing drought. According to the provincial Drought Information Portal, last updated on November 10th, everywhere in British Columbia, except the Haida Gawaii Basin, was experiencing some level of drought.

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Katherine Caddel is a recent graduate of Laurentian University's English Media and Rhetoric program. They grew up in Northern Ontario and recently decided to make the North Peace their new home. When not at work, Katherine enjoys horror movies, playing video games and Dungeons and Dragons.