Significant crop damage expected after hail storm

It was too soon on Monday to calculate the crop losses resulting from Saturday night’s hailstorm.

It was too soon on Monday to calculate the crop losses resulting from Saturday night’s hailstorm.

But Brian Tainsh, manager of on-farm inspections with Agriculture Financial Services Corp., already knew the figure would be high.

“I can tell you that the phones were ringing off the hook this morning,” he said, adding that claims were being received at AFSC offices in Lacombe, Ponoka, Red Deer, Stettler and Drumheller.

“It was a fairly intense storm. I think there were probably two or three cells, just by looking at the land locations on the claims that have been entered.”

Although insured farmers had three business days to file a claim, Tainsh was sure the weekend storm would prove to be Central Alberta’s worst of the year.

He drove around Lacombe during his lunch break on Monday and was struck by the severity of the damage.

With the strong winds that accompanied Saturday’s storm, affected farmers with maturing cereal crops wouldn’t have much left to harvest, he said.

Prior to the weekend, Central Alberta had been hit by smaller, isolated hailstorms, said Tainsh.

But AFSC has been processing claims from Southern Alberta since early June.

“It’s been a busy year again,” said Tainsh, comparing the situation to 2012, when AFSC paid out a record $450 million to Alberta producers. The next worst year was 2008, when claims topped $265 million.

“For where we were at this time last year, I think we’re creeping up on catching last year,” said Tainsh.

A Crown corporation, AFSC administers crop and hail insurance on behalf of the provincial government.

Farmers can buy coverage any time during the growing season, with policies taking effect the following day at noon.

hrichards@bprda.wpengine.com