Canadian Prairies Likely to Remain Dry


WINNIPEG, Manitoba (Dow Jones) — Prospects for dry weather remain for most of western Canada, and the lack of snow cover is leading to concern that farmers could face drought conditions this summer. However, precipitation in the spring and summer will be much more important in determining yield prospects, according to an official with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Drought Watch department.

“For most regions of the Prairies, we’re about two to three inches below normal in precipitation,” said Trevor Hadwen, an agroclimate specialist with National Agroclimate Information Service in Saskatchewan. He said the lack of snow cover was a little alarming, but added that the missing moisture could be made up quickly by late winter snow or early spring rain.

Hadwen said farmers should be aware of the situation and the potential risk as they contemplate spring seeding. “In terms of actual crop production, there’s no need to panic yet,” he said.

The lack of moisture and snow cover now could cause problems for forages and winter wheat, Hadwen said, noting that forage crops could be delayed and winter wheat will likely experience more winterkill than normal.

The one exception is Eastern Saskatchewan, where moisture levels are sufficient or excessive, Hadwen said.

Hadwen said that if the dryness elsewhere persists, he expects farmers would be looking to get into their fields and start seeding as early as possible.

Excess moisture and flooding delayed spring planting in parts of Manitoba and Saskatchewan in 2011, but the lack of snow cover should lessen flooding concerns this year, Hadwen said. He said extreme rains could still trigger a flood, but soils are not saturated and could absorb additional moisture this year. “The risk of flooding is extremely low right now,” Hadwen said.

Source:  Dow Jones

Posted by Haylie Shipp


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