Recent Prairie rainfall good news for farmers

Recent precipitation across the Prairies has helped ease some of the dryness concerns in the region, and was welcomed by farmers ahead of spring seeding.

"One of the impacts, psychologically, with the recent rainfall is it’s been tremendous for farmers," said Stuart McMillan, a weather and crop analyst with the Canadian Wheat Board in Winnipeg.

In the past month, he said, eastern parts of the Prairies have received about 20-50 millimetres of rainfall, which is normal to slightly above normal for this time of year. Parts of Saskatchewan and Alberta have also had similar amounts of precipitation within March, he said.

The recent precipitation has eased some concerns amongst Prairie farmers regarding very limited topsoil moisture, he said. McMillan noted some sections across Western Canada have some good topsoil moisture conditions, including western Saskatchewan and in Manitoba.

Farmers now should be able to start planting with some of the concerns over a possible drought easing slightly, he said. The attractive pricing seen for a variety of crops is enticing farmers to plant more seeded acres across Western Canada this spring, he said.

However, despite much-welcomed moisture, regular rainfall is still needed in order to support the 20 million acres of canola expected to be seeded across Western Canada, McMillan said.

Dry and warm winter conditions across the Prairies caused moisture shortfall in some areas. Parts of the Prairies are still running very significant moisture deficits of approximately 80 to 100 mm, he said. Northwestern Saskatchewan, the Lloydminster area of Alberta and parts of Manitoba are the most affected, he said.

Heading into late spring and summertime, McMillan said various forecasts call for above-normal rainfall across the Prairies.

Drew Lerner, meteorologist with World Weather Inc. at Overland Park, Kan., said precipitation will pick up later this spring and heading into summer, as periodic contrast in airmass temperatures will provide increased chances of storms across the Prairies.

Lerner also expects some areas across Western Canada to receive higher than normal amounts of rainfall this summer. Southwestern and central Saskatchewan, and parts of southeastern Alberta near Medicine Hat, are expected to be the wettest areas.

Meanwhile, the southeast corner of Saskatchewan and southern Manitoba will be drier than normal this summer, he said.

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