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Western Prairies Face Spring Weather Challenges

Cliff Jamieson
By  Cliff Jamieson , Canadian Grains Analyst
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Additional moisture this week in the western Prairies, much in the way of snow, will add further challenges to spring fieldwork. In the March 25-to-April 23 period, the 30 Day Percent of Average Precipitation reported by AAFC shows northern Alberta and northwestern Saskatchewan receiving more than 200% of average precipitation for this period. (DTN graphic by Nick Scalise)

A United States Twitter feed for the Weather Channel warned to keep shovels and "snow throwers" handy, with cold weather along with snow expected to move well south of the Canada-United States this week. This week's snowfall in the western Prairies is most unwelcome given the time of year, while the next three days of the National Weather Service precipitation maps signal that more of the same may be expected.

As seen on the attached chart, the blue-shaded area on the AAFC 30-Day Percent of Average Precipitation map (March 25 to April 23) signals an area that has already received more than 200% of average precipitation for this period. It also coincides with an area that has a large number of unharvested acres from 2016. As of April 25, the province's ag lender/insurer Agriculture Financial Services Corporation reports a total of 2,124 2016 unharvested claims in the works, while a media source quotes a provincial crop specialist suggesting that this could total as much as 1.5 million acres.

As of May 3, 2016, the first crop report released in Alberta for the 2015/16 crop year, a reported 20.8% of all crops were estimated to be seeded, which compared to 27% the previous year, the five-year average of 9% and the long-term average of 15%. The slowest start to seeding in recent history was seen in 2011, when .8% of the Alberta crop was planted as of the week from May 3-8 while in 2014 a total of 2.3% of all crops was reported as seeded by this same week.

Across the Prairies, areas of southern Manitoba has faced similar challenges, while temperatures across the Prairies are expected to remain below normal across the Prairies for much of the next two weeks.


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