Dryness being watched in parts of Western Canada

CNS Canada — The snowpack is gone and moisture levels are low across many agricultural areas of Western Canada, which should allow for an early start to spring seeding.

However, the lack of moisture could lead to problems down the road if there is no timely precipitation later in the season.

While there are no areas of “huge concern,” some parts of the Prairies are drier than normal and are being monitored, said Trevor Hadwen, an agroclimate specialist with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Drought Watch department in Regina.

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Southern Manitoba was dry in the fall and followed that up with a “well-below-normal snowpack,” he said, adding that the spring melt and runoff in Manitoba went very quickly, with little to no flooding, which is very rare in the province.

However, those dry areas of Manitoba typically get good amounts of moisture at this time of year, which could solve any problems relatively quickly, he said.

The northern Peace region of Alberta is also on the dry side, while eastern Alberta had a lower snowpack than normal as well.

“Most of the Prairie region has no snow cover at this time and the runoff is almost complete, which is fairly early for being completely bare of snow,” said Hadwen. “It could be a good thing to get (seeding) operations going quick, but it also could turn if we don’t get the spring moisture.”

It wasn’t dry enough anywhere to raise germination concerns, he said, but if there are three or four weeks of hot and dry weather in the middle of summer the lack of moisture reserves could become a concern.

On the other side of the coin, the eastern edge of Saskatchewan is still very moist, with standing water in many areas.

However, after dealing with excessive moisture for a number of years, Hadwen said a lighter snowpack in the region this year should help fields start to dry out.

Phil Franz-Warkentin writes for Commodity News Service Canada, a Winnipeg company specializing in grain and commodity market reporting.

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Phil Franz-Warkentin writes for MarketsFarm specializing in grain and commodity market reporting.

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