Ag News

Canadian Prairies in need of rain

IARN — The Canadian Prairies, especially much of the southern Prairie region, have received less than half of its average precipitation and there are no storms forecast in the near future.

According to Bill Campbell – President of Keystone Agricultural Producers in Manitoba – perennial forage crops are showing stress. In his region, Campbell saw obvious dry weather patterns setting in late last summer.

“Since August of ’20, we’ve had very limited precipitation,” said Campbell. “The first thing that will be impacted will be the forages. We, for the most part, have not started planting the crop yet. Producers need to conserve every bit of moisture that is in their soil at this particular time and not waste that moisture with tillage. The main thing will be to get the seeds in the ground for germination.”

The Canadian Prairies were brutally cold and dry throughout the winter months. March turned warmer but with very little snow to melt. So far, April is forecast to remain much the same. David Phillips, who is a semi-retired senior meteorologist with Environment Canada, began his career in the early 1970s.

“I’ve never seen Manitoba so dry as I’ve seen it this particular spring, and really south-eastern prairies,” Phillips said. “Central Alberta, never been drier, maybe the second driest in a hundred and thirty years. Current conditions don’t give a ray of optimism for people who depend upon water.”

Patrick Keillor, a Winnipeg-based meteorologist who studies weather effects on soils, says generally low precipitation in recent years has dangerously depleted moisture-storage levels.

“The lack of rain over the last few growing seasons, much of that storage has been depleted,” Keillor said. “This winter, for example, we only saw about 25 millimeters of precipitation from December through February, which is very little. You can get that much in one storm in summer. For crops that either can’t go down deep to access that deep-layer moisture, or if there’s no deep-layer moisture left, the crops simply aren’t going to be able to develop.”

The Manitoba government has already imposed burning restrictions across southern and eastern parts of the province.

Story courtesy of the Iowa Agribusiness Radio Network

Image source: Flickr Creative Commons

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