El Nino won’t affect Canadian farmers

Most Canadian farmers can expect to have a good crop this year whether El Nino develops or not.

El Nino is the warming of surface temperatures in the eastern and central parts of the Pacific Ocean. It can cause storms in the Pacific Ocean and reduce the number of storms in the Atlantic.

Drew Lerner, meteorologist with World Weather Inc. at Overland Park, Kansas, said if El Nino arrives it won’t drastically change his existing forecast of cooler temperatures and more rain for the Prairies.

"If El Nino comes along it reinforces our forecast, giving us a little bit of a milder summer. And probably it will perpetuate rainfall," he said. "We expect quite a bit of rain this summer with or without El Nino."

Lerner predicted the El Nino event will develop later in the summer. But, he said it could affect weather patterns sooner.

"If we start evolving toward an El Nino, sometimes that has an influence on weather patterns even though we don’t have an El Nino officially on the way," he said.

Lerner said it looks like there will be a good balance of rain versus sun and the crop yield should be average, if not above average.

"I think for the most part it’s going to be a good production year," Lerner said. "I think that the biggest concern would be that too much cloudiness and cool temperatures might promote slower degree day accumulation and therefore slower crop development. So, crop maturation rates could end up being a little late."

"Can’t percolate"

Lerner recommended farmers get their crops in the ground early to ensure they’ll see an improvement from last season’s yield.

"Last year we were so wet we couldn’t put a lot of crop in the ground. A pretty large portion of the eastern Prairies never got planted," Lerner said. "So just from that perspective alone we’re going to be far better off because we’re going to have probably at least two thirds of that area that didn’t get planted last year; planted this year."

The forecast isn’t good for everyone, though. Some farmers’ fields are still saturated from last season’s floods and as a result producers in those areas may not be able to plant their crop.

"There’s still a portion of southeastern Saskatchewan and a few other random areas that are still dealing with surplus moisture. The ground is completely saturated in those areas so we can’t percolate the moisture into the soil and it has to be evaporated out," said Lerner.

"That means if we keep a fairly high frequency of rainfall in those regions, some of these areas will still be too wet to be planted this year."

If El Nino fully develops, it probably won’t be until after the growing season ends on the Prairies, he said.

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