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A Slow Thaw Our Best Hope

Asnowstorm that was sweeping across Western Canada’s grain and canola belt would worsen what are already the wettest conditions for this time of year since the 1970s, a Canadian Wheat Board official said on March 21.

Environment Canada, the government forecasting agency, issued warnings for snowfall up to 25 cm (9.8 inches) in southern Alberta and western Saskatchewan for this week, and also flagged potential for heavy snow in southeastern Saskatchewan and western Manitoba.

Several years of heavy snowfall during the 1970s, which are the closest comparison to current conditions, led in some cases to a smaller planted area, although weather during May planting is also crucial, said Bruce Burnett, director of weather and market analysis at the Canadian Wheat Board. The board markets most of Canada’s wheat and barley.

“In terms of recent memory, the extent (of snowfall) on the Prairies certainly has been a winter for the record books,” Burnett said. “There are very few areas without excessive snowpack.”

Weather watchers are hoping temperatures don’t warm up too quickly.

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