Dry areas of Prairies still waiting for rain

CNS Canada –– The continued lack of moisture across a large portion of Alberta and Saskatchewan is becoming more of a concern for farmers in the region, but there is a chance of rain in some nearby forecasts.

Shannon Friesen, a cropping management specialist for Saskatchewan Agriculture in Moose Jaw, said some livestock producers are seeing their hay and pastures brown up.

Crops are at risk because parts of the province haven’t gotten rain in weeks, she said.

Areas near the Alberta-Saskatchewan border have seen fewer than 25 millimetres of rain throughout this year’s growing season, according to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Drought Watch.

However, Drought Watch noted both provinces have received close to, or just below average amounts of precipitation.

“In some cases some of those crops have been sitting in dry soil for many weeks now, and in some of those areas even the subsoil moisture is disappearing,” Friesen said. “If we don’t get rain things may become a lot more difficult in the next coming weeks.”

The need for rain isn’t dire at this point, she said, but if it doesn’t come soon, plants will not be able to grow or take in nutrients. “A lot of them will start to just wither up.”

Herbert Carlson, a farmer at Buchanan, Sask., about 65 km north of Yorkton, said he hopes his 3,000-plus acres of crops get rain soon.

“There is moisture down below, but we need a shower to get to some of the canola fields,” he said. “They were a little dry when we reseeded, and we didn’t get quite as good of a germination as we had hoped.”

Alberta has showers in its forecast for Wednesday and the weekend for drier parts of the province including Lloydminster, Coronation and Medicine Hat, according to Environment Canada.

Dry parts of western Saskatchewan have rain in the forecast this week, including Swift Current and Kindersley, both with a 30 per cent chance of rain, and Meadow Lake at 60 per cent.

Ken Ball, analyst for PI Financial in Winnipeg, says rain can change things with the canola market quickly and dramatically.

“It’s just a question of if the potential for rain increases by the end of this week. That’s what the market is going to be watching for,” he said.

The market is watching to see if the potential for rain increases throughout the week.

“But now it’s just a question now of where the rain goes — will it catch enough of the dry areas?”

Jade Markus writes for Commodity News Service Canada, a Winnipeg company specializing in grain and commodity market reporting.

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