Ag Weather Forum

Dry Spring in Prairies

Joel Burgio
By  Joel Burgio , DTN Senior Ag Meteorologist
Most of the Canadian Prairies have received no more than half the normal precipitation during the past 30 days. (Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada graphic)

Dryness remains a highlight feature of the spring season in the Canadian Prairies. Much of the region has had less than 50% of the normal precipitation during the past 30 days. This has been favorable for seeding progress. However, it is causing some concern for fields that have already been seeded. Temperatures during this time period have averaged below normal. Low soil temperatures likely will slow germination and emergence rates.

The next five days offer little precipitation for the region. The only exception to this might come in the southwest areas, where there is some chance for rain during Friday. The five-day trend is cold, also; temperatures during this time frame are projected to be below- or well-below normal. Seeding will likely continue for many areas, but may slow somewhat in areas that have seen some recent showers, and in fields where farmers might be concerned about the colder weather.

The six- to 10-day period features at least a little better chance for rainfall reaching into the southeast Prairies. The storm track in the U.S. remains very active and is somewhat further north than it has been, but it still may not be far enough to the north to bring needed rains to the heart of the Prairies, especially as we look at the area between Regina and Saskatoon in Saskatchewan, and northeast and southwest areas of Alberta.

Manitoba has a little better chance for needed rains through the middle of next week, but even in that area the forecast is uncertain. This rain could just as easily stay south of the region.

The temperatures during this time frame are expected to warm somewhat, especially in northern areas. This combination of below-normal rainfall and a somewhat warmer outlook is favorable for seeding, but still leaves moisture short for germination and early development of recently planted crops in many areas.

The longer-range outlook, taking us through the end of May, is not that much more optimistic for getting rains to occur in areas that need it the most.

We are looking at a situation in the U.S. that features a larger and stronger southeast ridge during the six- to 10-day and the 11- to 15-day periods. This type of ridge can, in some cases, force the storm track further north over the Plains region of the U.S. and increase the odds for rain reaching into the Prairies. This is especially likely in late May and during June, when ridges tend to build as we get closer to summer.

However, I do not see enough evidence to suggest that this ridge will reach the level needed to bring the rains to the Prairies, at least not at this time. So, as we look at that last week of May, I would expect to see mostly below-normal rainfall and a variable temperature pattern for the region.

The most recent weather, and the forecasted conditions during the next two weeks, continue to favor a rapid planting pace for the region. However, dryness and somewhat low soil temperatures may slow germination and development. We will be watching the weather patterns, especially the southeast U.S. ridge, to see if there are any indications of a push toward more rain and more favorable temperatures during the weeks ahead.

Joel Burgio can be reached at



To comment, please Log In or Join our Community .