Alta. soils remain dry despite snowfall: AARD

(Resource News International) — The precipitation that fell in the form of snow over the past few days looks to have done little to alleviate the dry soil moisture conditions across many ag growing areas in Alberta.

“There’s been little accumulation of snow to date and what has fallen has barely been enough to wet the ground in terms of actual water percentage,” said Harry Brook, a crop specialist with Alberta’s provincial Ag-Info Centre at Stettler.

Southern regions of the province had a little extra moisture going into the fall, so the conditions in that area were considered a bit better, he said.

“Some producers in that area had begun spring fieldwork, with some individuals actually getting some seeding done.”

As for the soil moisture situation in central and northern Alberta, including the Peace River district, there was little in the way of moisture that went into the ground before the winter. Those areas remain on the dry side heading into spring seeding, he said.

The weather outlook includes a heavy snowfall warning for parts of Alberta, but again there has been little in the way of accumulations, with the exception of the northeast corner of the province around the Lloydminster region.

“There’s snow in the ditches in that area,” Brook said.

However, he also pointed out that it takes anywhere from eight to 12 inches of snow to make at least one inch of usable moisture.

“In some places the ground is so hard, the water will run right off; in other locations, the soil is so parched, it is immediately absorbed,” Brook said.

The outlook for annual crops was seen as decent if timely rains are received, Brook said. However, hay and pasture land are in terrible shape and are in need of measurable precipitation soon.

“We could see a further reduction in Alberta’s cattle herd this summer if pastures don’t see an improvement soon,” Brook said. “In some cases, it still may be another six weeks before cattle will be allowed to graze if adequate precipitation is not received soon.”

Brook also indicated that dugouts in the province are drying out, which may cause further complications for cattle in the province.

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