Ag Weather Forum

Prairies Dryness Concerning

Joel Burgio
By  Joel Burgio , DTN Senior Ag Meteorologist
In the past 60 days, most locations in the Canadian Prairies have recorded well under half the normal precipitation. (AAFC graphic)

Dryness is now of increasing concern across the Canadian Prairies region as seeding season approaches. Most locations have taken in well under half their normal precipitation over the past two months. Also of note, the snow cover has melted in most areas, which means melting snow is not going to be a soil moisture source during the early going. Dry weather and dry soils might be favorable conditions for seeding, but it appears that some farmers might hold off on activity until some more significant precipitation develops.

Over the next five days, there will be a cold pattern covering the region. In addition, there will be see some chance for significant precipitation, 0.50 inch (12 millimeters) or more, for southern areas of Alberta and southwestern areas of Saskatchewan. Other areas have a low probability of taking in any moisture. The greatest benefit is likely to be in the southwest, while most areas remain drier. Lower temperatures will, for a time, limit any early fieldwork in the region.

The eight- to 10-day time frame, through the first week of May, brings in both below-normal temperatures and below-normal precipitation. The normal weather patterns during May would allow for a significant warm-up and also a jump in the amount of rainfall reaching the Prairies from the south. This pattern might delay this for a time.

A longer-range look at the 11- to the 15-day period suggests that the below-normal rainfall pattern might continue into the second week of the month as well; however, with a near- to above-normal temperature pattern redeveloping.

It appears that the best chance for improvement in the soil moisture profile in the Prairies during the next three weeks might actually occur during the next five days. However, this is not a great chance for much of the region. The tendency for warmer weather noted between the first and second weeks of May is an encouraging sign. This might mean that the pattern is getting ready to deliver some much-needed moisture into the area from the south. This, at least, holds out some hope for a more normal rainfall and temperature pattern in the Prairies during the middle to latter part of May. This would allow for improving conditions for seeding.

Joel Burgio can be reached at



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