Dry soil a concern for some on the Prairies

Dry soil conditions heading into winter could cause problems next spring.

“There are some concerns with pasture recovery and just starting up the season next year,” said Trevor Hadwen, agro-climate specialist with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.

“In terms of native pasture, the dry fall doesn’t allow the recharge of the soil moisture, which doesn’t allow the plants to prepare as well for the winter as they normally would.”

The biggest area of concern is a region starting in central Alberta and stretching into Saskatchewan, he said.

There are some dry regions in Manitoba as well, but many areas in the south and southwest received some good precipitation this fall.

“The southwest (region of Manitoba) has received quite a bit of rain, getting a few of those storms that were popping up from North Dakota,” Hadwen said.

Though the soil is too dry in Alberta now, it’s likely that things will improve in spring, said Drew Lerner of World Weather Inc. in Kansas.

“We’ve had some snow events already (in Alberta) which helped to pad the dryness a little bit and it kind of suggests that maybe we’ll see some improvement in the spring,” said Lerner. “A lot of the snow that fell will help to keep frost out of the ground, so when we do get into the spring thaw, the moisture will go into the ground fairly quickly.”

It’s still a wait-and-see kind of situation in Saskatchewan, though Lerner said he expects average snowfalls during the first half of winter across Western Canada, and that should keep winter wheat crops covered, he said.

“I think in general, the crop will probably be in fairly good shape,” he said. “There will be some very impressive bouts of cold that will occur, but I think we’ll have sufficient snow on the ground to take care of that. So, when it comes to the spring, we should at least get a fair start to the season.”

About the author

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Terryn Shiells writes for Commodity News Service Canada, a Winnipeg company specializing in grain and commodity market reporting.

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