Ag Weather Forum

Brevity Between Storms Keeps Canadian Prairies Overly Wet

John Baranick
By  John Baranick , DTN Meteorologist
Heavy rainfall during the last 30 days for much of the Canadian Prairies is bogging down seeding progress because of water sitting on fields such as on this field by Keatley, Saskatchewan on May 14. (DTN photo by Elaine Shein)

Though still mired in drought without an update to the Canadian Drought Monitor for another couple of weeks, heavy and continuous bouts of rain and low temperatures have kept the seeding pace in the Canadian Prairies at a slower-than-normal pace across Saskatchewan and Manitoba. Alberta remained ahead of the usual pace last week because of drier conditions across the north, but southern areas have been slower as of late, too.

The weekly report from Saskatchewan, released May 23, noted total seeding progress sits at just 56%, compared to the five-year average of 76%. Progress is just barely better than 2022, when it was only 52% at this point in the year.

Manitoba is on a similar path. At just 47% complete as of May 20, it is behind the average pace of 52% and the pace slipped significantly from last week, when the seeded area was ahead of the average pace. Heavy rain falling over Manitoba on May 24 will probably limit more of the seeding progress.

The other factor has been the cold conditions. Overnight lows have been hovering around or just above the freezing mark all week and temperatures are likely to be colder than normal through the weekend, keeping the risk of frost damage higher and limiting the ability of soils to drain effectively.

The region has been a meeting place for upper-level disturbances since last week. And while the main storm track has generally been to the south, the passing disturbances have meant continued showers in the region. That also continues through the weekend with showers dotting the region through May 26.

There is a slight change in the pattern for next week. An upper-level ridge will develop on May 27, shove the troughs eastward and allow temperatures to rise through midweek. But the ridge does not last long. A trough building in the North Pacific will push through the region in the middle to end of next week and is likely to come with more scattered showers. Depending on the number of pieces of energy and their speed, showers may stick around through the following weekend -- a wet start to June. The trough is likely to bring in some cooler air again, though the prospect for frosts continues to dwindle with time and the Pacific source region should mean less of a risk of frost overall as well.

The short time between storm systems is likely to continue impeding seeding progress across the region, though pastures may be finding some overall good conditions as they recover from deep drought. Models are mixed on how long this pattern stays active, but better chances for more dry days between storm systems exist in early June. The already short seeding window for the region will be quickly closing, as crops planted deeper into June are more at risk for heat damage in the summer, and frost damage in the fall.

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