Extended winter to set back planting season?

The mercury in the thermometer continues to be a yo-yo with highs below zero one day followed by highs in the plus-teens the next in Alberta, which has left an uneasy feeling in farmers looking to get a start on the 2014 planting season in the coming weeks.

The extended cold weather that stretched into spring will sure to have an effect on the amount of moisture in the ground.

Alberta Agriculture Soil Moisture Technologist Joe Michielsen tells Rural Roots Canada the cold weather which we saw extend into April has kept the soil from thawing and thus keeping all the snow we have seen above ground.

“Actually we’ve had very little gain from the recent precipitation and the reason is that the ground is not thawed out yet so a lot of it sat on the surface and some it actually sublimated and turned into very dry snow,” said Michielsen

He says southern Alberta is fortunate to have had some precipitation late in the fall, leaving it with anywhere from 40 – 60 millimetres of water in the ground, but some other areas of the province were not as fortunate.

Michielsen says farmers are just hoping for Spring to sprung.

“I think the first thing they want to see is some normal weather with normal heat because everything is behind normal right now with the frozen ground and the cool temperatures and it’s been freezing every night, which is unusual for this time of year.”

Michielsen says central Alberta farmers will need more precipitation during the growing season as a result of dry conditions.