Near-record dry conditions in Sask. plaguing farmers
Despite a wet March, the bulk of the province has seen extremely dry conditions for over a year with no real end in sight.
With thousands of acres that still need to be seeded, farmers are questioning how long it will take for high winds to sap what moisture the soil still has.
“It’s taking that much more moisture out of the soil, so there’s some concern around our area over just how dry it is,” Carmen Sterling, Reeve for the Rural Municipality of Weyburn, said. “We get into losing that seed bed moisture and needing that actual rain to germinate that crop and sustain it through the growing season, but then you get out there in the roller and see the dirt flying away.”
Farmers aren’t the only ones feeling the heat.
The RM and city of Weyburn have implemented fire bans, while the city has also activated water restrictions as levels at the Nickle Lake reservoir dip more than a metre lower than usual.
Environment Canada says the entire province is parched, but southern Saskatchewan is nearing a record-breaking dry spell.
“Average precipitation in a place like Weyburn in April and May is around 100 millimetres of precipitation,” meteorologist John Paul Cragg explained. “So far in Weyburn, they’ve received just over ten millimetres of precipitation”
Cragg says the province is prone to prolonged cycles of weather. Dry conditions began more than a year and a half ago, and haven’t let up much since. Still, he says it’s hard to say when the trend will give way to more sustained precipitation.
“In Saskatchewan, normal is a difficult thing to gauge,” Cragg added.
For now, it’s a waiting game to see whether crops will germinate in ever-drying soil.
Provincial agriculture officials in Weyburn say farmers have had varied success so far, warning a short, hard rain could erode topsoil. Instead, they’re hoping for a few days of light, continuous rain.
“Everybody’s kind of feeling the same thing,” Sterling, whose family is part of a third-generation grain farm, noted. “We’re going into seed bed moisture but we’re going to need something or this crop isn’t going to be what we need it to be.”
Things are expected to cool down over the next few days with some parts of the province expecting thunder and lightning, but looming ahead are more dry, hot conditions- leaving Saskatchewan farmers fighting to stay cool under pressure.