CNS Canada –– An early melt in many areas of Western Canada should allow farmers to get on their fields within the next few weeks, although the uncertainty of spring weather remains a wild card in the background and seeding won’t begin in earnest until late April or May as the fields warm up.
Areas of southwestern Saskatchewan and southern Alberta have already not had any snow cover for some time, according to CWB analyst Bruce Burnett. Those areas, he said, were drying out and would need additional moisture for germination.
It’s a similar situation in Manitoba’s Red River Valley, where there might not be a lot of topsoil moisture around when farmers start planting, said Burnett.
However, after a number of years with fields on the wetter side, producers would welcome a drier spring, he said, adding that there were no real concerns over subsoil moisture across the Prairies at the moment.
Conditions can change quickly at this time of year, but Burnett said the forecasts were generally pointing to an earlier, rather than later, start to spring seeding.
“We don’t know what the weather will be, but the fact that the snow will be essentially gone in most areas by the middle of the month will help out,” said Burnett.
When snow is gone, soils start warming up quickly, he said, adding that even if there is more snow or rain, chances are it won’t be enough to delay things that much at this time.
“March can bring some wet snow storms and April generally brings rainfall,” making it tough to predict just when seeding will begin in Western Canada, said crop specialist Neil Whatley of Alberta’s provincial Ag-Info Centre in Stettler.
“We’re having a good thaw right now… but it will take awhile to get the soil warmer,” he added, noting soil temperatures will need to be in the 5 to 10 C range in order to seed.
“You don’t want to seed too early, because you’ll still get a couple of frosts,” said Whatley.
— Phil Franz-Warkentin writes for Commodity News Service Canada, a Winnipeg company specializing in grain and commodity market reporting.