Winter snow makes up for lack of precipitation during planting as growing season begins

It’s early June, so hopefully, we won’t be seeing any more snow until fall, but thanks to the heavy snow across the Prairies this past winter, soil moisture conditions are doing good.

CTV Calgary Meteorologist David Spence says we had one of the snowiest winters in the past decade across the Prairies.

“Soil moisture levels are in pretty good shape going into the growing season,” said Spence.

However, he added it’s been a different story since the start of the growing season

“Since the beginning of April, especially in areas east of Calgary, precipitation levels have been below normal.”

According to the Agriculture Canada Drought Watch map, most parts of Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba have received between 85 to 130% of their average precipitation since September 1, 2016.

June Agriculture year
Drought impact
June Growing Year

Courtesy: Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

The moisture levels should help kick-start what has been a challenging start to the growing season, especially in Alberta and Saskatchewan.

“Obviously we know there was leftover harvest from 2016, so the guys in Saskatchewan and Alberta had a fair bit of a struggle getting that cleared up and getting the crop in, while Manitoba has been a little more fortunate,” according to Ray Dowbenko, Senior Agronomist with Agrium.

Dowbenko says south central, southwest Manitoba, and some parts of southwest and southern Saskatchewan could use some rain, but in northeastern Alberta and northwestern Saskatchewan, it has been a struggle to get the crop in because of wet conditions.

But overall Dowbenko says he doesn’t see anywhere across the three provinces with extremely dry conditions right now.

If you are looking for rain, Spence reminds southern Albertans that June is the wettest month of the year.

“It’s too early to worry at this point, but if by the end of June there hasn’t been at least the average amount of precipitation for any given area then it may become a concern,” Spence told Rural Roots Canada.

Some final advice from Dowbenko, “It’s always a challenging a year, every year is different, don’t forget about the crop, but don’t agonize over it.”

He adds that certain things like wind damage, twisting and burning of the leaves due to soil particles moving across the field, Dowbenko says you can’t do much about.

EYE ON THE STORM

In other weather related news, the entire country was fixated on the small town of Three Hills, Alberta after a tornado touched down just outside the community.

Three Hills resident Kenton Barkman snapped some amazing pictures of the June 2nd tornado just off his back deck.

“As I was driving up the street, I noticed the funnel kind of forming way up in the sky, and by the time I rushed home it had grown quite a bit and it had pulled up a bunch of dirt from the ground,” Barkman told Rural Roots Canada.

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Calgary CTV Meteorologist David Spence says all that dirt is actually good news.

“The tornado just sucked the top soil right off the land and drove it into the funnel, which means it’s over farm land and not homes or other structures,” said Spence.

The tornado did tear the roof off a barn, destroyed an RV and tossed an empty grain bin around 400 metres.

Environment Canada says the twister was an EF 1 on the Fujita scale, that goes from 1-5, which means it had wind speeds of 130 to 175 km/h.