Weather expert sees limited Prairie seeding opportunities

The window of opportunity for seeding operations in Western Canada is likely to be limited, particularly in the eastern regions of Saskatchewan and much of Manitoba, according to weather outlooks looking at the next 30 days.

“There is definitely going to be a bias to wet and cooler weather conditions over the next couple of weeks across the grain and oilseed growing areas of the eastern Canadian prairie regions,” said Drew Lerner of World Weather Inc. in Kansas City.

“One more storm like the one that hit the Canadian Prairies over the past week, where in some areas over 43 centimetres of snow accumulated, producers are unlikely to get into the fields until sometime in June.”

There will be some warming up in temperatures, but the duration of the improved readings will be interrupted by short bursts of cold. Precipitation events will also be frequent, which will not allow time for the fields in the eastern part of the prairies to get a lot of drying time.

“I also cannot say without any degree of certainty that some of the precipitation will not be in the form of snow,” Lerner said.

The precipitation events were not seen allowing already wet fields and flooded areas to dry out enough to allow heavy machinery on the fields in a good portion of the eastern Prairies, Lerner cautioned.

“I just can’t see any significant drying time to allow individuals in some of the excessively wet fields of Manitoba or parts of eastern Saskatchewan for at least three weeks,” he said.

In the more western regions of the Prairies, Lerner said, some spring fieldwork has begun in the drier areas, especially southwestern Saskatchewan and into the neighbouring southern areas of Alberta.

In some of the other areas of central and western Saskatchewan and Alberta, producers were also said to have started some sporadic field preparations.

“Off limits”

The outlook for the western areas of the Prairies will include periodic light precipitation and a slightly above average to slightly below average temperature bias over the next 30 days.

If all that occurs, we will see some good seeding progress made in that region, he said.

“In terms of seeded area, plantings in Western Canada should be up from the year-ago level, but we are going to have areas in the east that are off limits,” Lerner said.

If wet conditions in the eastern Prairies continue, producers will indeed have to consider switching to shorter-season crop varieties, he said.

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