The early departure of snow cover, and the warm winter and spring to date, have allowed seeding operations to start early and move ahead at a rapid pace across most of the Canadian Prairies. Soil moisture is a concern for Alberta where dry weather has been in place for many months.
After a winter with a full blown El Nino bringing dry, mild weather to Western Canada, we continue to see warmth and dryness in Alberta, but Saskatchewan and Manitoba have fared better with rainfall.
The accompanying chart from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada shows extensive areas of below-normal precipitation across Alberta and central Saskatchewan since April 1, but southern Saskatchewan and southern Manitoba have seen plenty of precipitation.
A slow-moving rainstorm moved across southern Saskatchewan and Manitoba during the past couple of days depositing as much as 50 to 75 millimeters (2 to 3 inches) of rain, but this system was mostly a miss for Alberta. Soil moisture conditions continue to worsen across Alberta.
Seeding progress is ahead of schedule for all of the Prairies, but is slowing for some crops across Alberta due to low soil moisture levels. It is still early in the seeding season and farmers hope that rains may arrive soon to help ease dryness and allow seeding to resume.
Seeding progress across Manitoba has already reached nearly 50% and there are reports of early emergence of corn, soybeans and cereal crops. There could be some issues with any early emerged crops during the next few days as unseasonably low temperatures are likely to cover Saskatchewan and Manitoba bringing frost and freezing conditions at night. Hopefully enough wind and clouds will help prevent temperatures from nose-diving to critically low levels.
For areas where seeding can proceed due to adequate soil moisture, we will see good weather for such operations for at least the next five days. In fact, the overall weather pattern continues to show many of the same characteristics as we have seen for the past two months.
A ridge near Canada's West Coast will continue to be a roadblock to storms and moisture for most of the western Prairies with the far southern or southeast Prairies having a better chance at some moisture.
A deep trough across the central part of the nation will supply lots of cold weather during the next several days for the eastern Prairies with western areas seeing cool weather for a couple of days before warming weather returns by early next week.
Sunshine and warm weather for Alberta will only dry soil conditions even further, while eastern areas will see temperatures a little too cool to allow for crop emergence in the short term and as mentioned above could burn back some early emerged crops.
Doug Webster can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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