Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada's Percent of Normal Soil Moisture map as of July 15 continues to show a significant area across the Prairies that continues to show well-below-normal soil moisture levels.
The driest soils are found at the northern tip of the Peace River Region of Alberta, as well as all of southern Alberta from Calgary south, an area that is stretching across the border into Saskatchewan. This area shows soils remains below 40% of normal moisture. Smaller areas also rated below 40% of normal are seen in the Moose Jaw/Regina area, in northwest Manitoba and in southwest Manitoba.
The attached chart highlights the variability of precipitation received at various locations of the Prairies over the May-to-July period in 2018 (brown bars), as well as the three-year average (grey bars), for comparison to the May-through-July 15 period in 2019 (blue bars).
Given the Environment Canada data, four of the seven locations have already received more precipitation in the May-through-July 15 period than the May-July period in 2018. These are Lethbridge, Saskatoon, Regina and Winnipeg. Rainfall received over this period for both Lethbridge and Saskatoon are roughly 25.4 millimetres or 1 inch ahead of the same period in 2018.
When compared to the three-year average, only Lethbridge is reporting 2019 precipitation higher than the three-year average, with the current 110.4 mm higher than the average of 91.3 mm, although the average has been pulled lower with droughts experienced during the past two years.
Of the locations shown, the widest spread between 2019 and the three-year average is shown for Kindersley, with the May-to-July 15 precipitation reported at 80.6 mm as compared to the three-year average of 187 mm. Grande Prairie is next, lagging the average by 97 mm.
Not captured in this chart is the timing of the precipitation. In the month of May, Kindersley is reported to have received only 2.2 mm, which compares to the three-year average for the month of 32 mm, while Saskatoon is reported to have received 4.4 mm, below the three-year average of 41 mm, leading to a challenging start for many crops.
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