Farm season well set up if there’s a normal spring

A warm, dry spring should allow most areas to get off to a good start, says provincial forecast

It will — as usual — all depend on Mother Nature’s mood over the next couple of months, but much of Alberta is in a “desirable condition” when it comes to soil moisture reserves, says the latest provincial soil moisture update.

“The greatest reserves are found throughout much of the southern Peace region and along the foothills, stretching from Grande Prairie, down to the U.S. border,” says the report, which outlines conditions as of March 2. “Most of these areas are also under above-normal snowpacks. As a result, conditions are likely to be wetter than normal soon after the winter snows retreat.”

That means farmers will need “a steady but slow melt, followed by warm and dry weather during April and first half of May,” the report says.

This map, which shows moisture reserves in the top 120 centimetres (four feet) of soil, shows virtually all of Alberta farm country falls into one of three categories — near normal, moderately low, or moderately high.
photo: Alberta Agriculture and Forestry

However, it also says that many areas in the southern half of the province — from Red Deer down to the border — have seen low to extremely low precipitation over the past two years and therefore have “longer-term moisture deficits.”

But that shouldn’t be a problem unless spring conditions are warmer and drier than normal.

“Those areas that are currently dry still have favourable yield potential, provided crops receive near-normal, well-timed moisture during the growing period,” the report states.

The provincial soil moisture reports can be found at www.alberta.ca by searching for ‘agricultural moisture.’

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