Although many people were thrilled to see less snowfall this winter, Prairie farmers are concerned over the lack of moisture.
Soil moisture, going into the fall 2020 season, was reported as short and dry.
“We didn’t get an even distribution of snow over the winter,” explained Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture crops extension specialist Matthew Struthers.
“Currently, I would assume it’s a bit drier than most farmers would hope. But it’s March, so there’s time for a good dump of snow or a couple good rains.”
It’s pretty dry from Medicine Hat to Winnipeg, said Regina-area farmer Todd Lewis. The grain belt hasn’t received any major precipitation in the past 12 months.
“It’s very concerning and it’s very dry,” he said of the current conditions. “The good thing about a drought is, two inches of rain can turn things around in a hurry and we are due for a good rainfall or snow event.”
Some farmers may need to adjust their seeding schedule and wait until they see at least a little moisture. Others may have to reduce their use of fertilizer once seeds are in the ground.
However, despite the lack of wet weather, producers remain optimistic as we head into April.
“This is getting pretty close to a record dry spell on our farm,” said Lewis. “It’s probably as dry as we’ve been for a number of decades.… You’d have to go back to ‘88 to see such a prolonged dry period.”
Having crop insurance is a way to help mitigate risks associated with drought and can aid in cushioning the blow if precipitation doesn’t materialize.
Nonetheless, it’s still too early to push the panic button as rain is expected in the Prairies over the next two weeks.
“I’m optimistic,” said Struthers, “It’s Saskatchewan; we call it ‘dry-land farming’ for a reason.”