Warm weather aids seeding, but winter still lingers

CNS Canada — A late spring snowstorm will delay seeding operations in northern Saskatchewan, but better weather across most other areas of the Prairies is allowing producers to make headway getting this year’s crop in the ground.

Up to 30 centimetres of snow fell in and around Saskatoon on Saturday and Sunday, knocking out power in some areas.

“Before the snow things were looking fairly good, because we were starting to get some drier weather with heavy winds,” said Daphne Cruise, a crop management specialist with Saskatchewan Agriculture in Moose Jaw. She estimated the snow will delay seeding by at least five days.

If there is no more rain or snow, that would still allow farmers to get on their fields at around the average time. The southeast corner aside, “most of Saskatchewan likes to get into their fields by the first week of May,” she said.

The moisture will help later in the growing season, but is a mixed blessing at this time of year as an early snowmelt had many people eager to get started early, said Cruise.

The province’s southeast corner is still dealing with excess moisture, which could create some difficulties with seeding, but the area missed most of the latest precipitation, she said.

Southwestern Saskatchewan is drier, having missed any significant snow or rain, and producers there have already been seeding for some time. “Typically the southwest is ahead of everybody else, and it’s no different this year.”

In Alberta, seeding is underway in the southern half of the province, but has not progressed that far north, according to Neil Whatley with the Alberta Ag-Info Centre in Stettler.

Peas and wheat were up to 70 per cent seeded already in the far south, he said, with canola the next to go in the ground.

Nearby forecasts look warm and dry across most of Alberta, which should allow soil temperatures to warm up and seeding operations to move northward, said Whatley.

In Manitoba, a relatively dry spring has allowed farmers to start seeding a bit earlier than normal across much of the province, according to reports.

Weather forecasts calling for sunny skies and above-seasonal temperatures over the next week will help warm soils even more, as planting becomes more widespread.

Phil Franz-Warkentin writes for Commodity News Service Canada, a Winnipeg company specializing in grain and commodity market reporting.

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