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Saskatchewan producers need soil moisture
Saskatchewan producers need soil moisture

More rain and snow are necessary to ensure good spring seeding conditions

By Diego Flammini
News Reporter
Farms.com

Saskatchewan farmers are calling on Mother Nature to bring more snow and rain to help the upcoming crop.

“When you look at precipitation overall, we’re locked in a pretty significant drought here,” Bill Gehl, a grain producer north of Regina, Sask. and chair of the Sask Wheat Development Commission, told Farms.com today. “Hopefully someone can put in a good word for us to get some moisture.”

Farmers have planted fewer winter wheat acres due to soil conditions.

Producers faced dry conditions in the summer of 2017, forcing some farmers to remove winter cereals from their crop rotations, Gehl added.

But not everyone in the province is overly concerned with the current lack of moisture.

Farmers still have about three months to go before spring seeding begins, meaning soils have plenty of time to accumulate moisture, according to Ken Panchuk, a soil specialist with Saskatchewan Agriculture.

“At this point it’s more of a discussion than a concern,” Panchuk told Farms.com today. “We did have a snowfall warning and some areas received about four inches of snow. Other areas could receive snow and rain, which is good for the soil.”

While any moisture is appreciated, snowfall is more important for soils because the snow acts as a barrier that reflects sunlight away from the ground.

If the ground is left bare, the soils are at risk to lose whatever moisture it may have accumulated.

“It’s called sublimation,” Panchuk said. “It’s what happens when snow or ice evaporates without going through the melting phase.”

Snow cover can also help keep winter cereals safe from extreme cold weather.

“When we start getting into the minus 20s or 30s C, there could be injury to the crowns of the cereal,” he said. “Farmers don’t see that until the spring, but if snow covers the crop it can help keep the crop insulated.”