Ag Weather Forum

Warmer Weather Favors Seeding, Crop Development in Prairies

Doug Webster
By  Doug Webster , DTN Senior Ag Meteorologist
The percent of average precipitation for the Prairies region from April 1 to May 17 shows extensive dryness in Alberta and Saskatchewan. (Chart courtesy of National Agroclimate Information Service)

Dry conditions have been a building problem for parts of Alberta and central Saskatchewan so far this growing season and a developing low pressure area appears as though it will bring just what the doctor ordered during the next few days to these areas.

The accompanying chart from Canada's National Agroclimate Information Service depicts how extensive dryness is across Alberta to western Saskatchewan since April 1. Above-normal precipitation has been reported for southern Saskatchewan and most of southern Manitoba.

A good dose of rain, possibly in the 25-50 millimeters (1-2 inches) category is expected for most of the dry areas of Alberta and Saskatchewan through this weekend. Worthwhile rains could help the firefighters as they battle the wildfire near Fort McMurray.

Seeding progress is well-ahead of schedule for nearly all crops so a few days of rain slowing seeding progress should not be an issue, especially when the benefits of renewed soil moisture are realized.

Low pressure developing across northwest Montana today will move slowly northeastward through Saskatchewan later Friday into Saturday reaching northern Manitoba Sunday. Moisture will be wrapped into this system from the northern U.S. Plains and Pacific to bring worthwhile rains to the western Prairies.

Further east across southeastern Saskatchewan and Manitoba seeding progress continues to race along ahead of schedule. Seeding has been so early for some crops that the recent cold weather and some snow has brought some reports of damage to early emerged canola, corn, and soybeans. Damage assessment continues and some reseeding is possible for some of these crops.

Recent cool weather has slowed the progress of early emerged crops across Saskatchewan and Manitoba, but temperatures in recent days have zoomed back to above-normal levels and the warmth will continue through the weekend.

The return of warmth is welcome to allow remaining seeding and crop development to take place. A trend toward more seasonable temperatures is expected as we move into next week across the Prairies behind the rainmaker, but there are no signs of a major cold outbreak that could damage early emerged crops at this time.

The weather pattern on the whole favors remaining seeding, emerging, and developing crops across Western Canada. Current rains should help negate western dryness while higher temperatures will help emerging crops.

Forecasts for the later portion of May and early June continue to be favorable with temperatures expected to average near or above normal and precipitation expected to be normal or a bit above as well. This pattern should allow the area of low soil moisture to decrease with time as further precipitation events are expected later this month and early June.

Doug Webster can be reached at



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