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Dry winter a worry for cattle, winter wheat

Canada’s western farm belt is the driest it has been in five years, raising concerns for cattle and winter cereals.

Large pockets of the Prairie provinces have received less than 40 per cent of normal precipitation during the past three months, according to federal Agriculture Department maps.

“We have a lot of winter ahead of us and things can change in a hurry,” said Trevor Hadwen, agroclimate specialist for the Canadian government’s Drought Watch program. “(But) the fall period was very dry on the Prairies and that is a concern.”

Mild temperatures have been favourable for cattle, but dry conditions are a major concern to ranchers who rely on snow to replenish dugouts that will water their cattle in spring, said Travis Toews, president of the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association.

Environment Canada is forecasting colder and wetter conditions than usual for January through March, consistent with the usual impact of the La Nia weather phenomenon, Hadwen said.

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