July 23rd, 2024

Precipitation vital as seeding gets underway

By Nicholas Allen - for the Lethbridge Herald on May 3, 2022.

Spring has arrived in southern Alberta as farmers take to the fields. Seeding season has just begun and moisture levels are varied across the province.
April has been unusually cold, with many agricultural areas only seeing temperatures this low once every 12 years. According to the Agricultural Moisture Situation Update published by the Government of Alberta on April 20, this may delay seeding operations. However, the report also says the cold weather has served to limit moisture stress on pastures which have been hit hard by last year’s drought. It says moisture and warmer weather are now needed in these affected areas.
Lynn Jacobson, a member of the Alberta Federation of Agriculture Board of Directors, said the northern and central parts of the province are doing much better because of the snow that they have gotten.
“They’ve got adequate moisture. In fact, some of the people are our members up there have said please quit,” said Jacobson. “We don’t need any more.”
Jacobson, who farms near Enchant, said some people have started seeding things but, in his opinion, it was too early with strong winds potentially blowing away the crop.
“Some people I know have basically changed some of their plans, are trying to change some of their plans from seeding a small-seeded crop, like canola to a wheat or barley, which they can put it in a bit deeper and hopefully get a germination on that,” said Jacobson.
Jacobson said a lot of people in his area, Enchant, haven’t really started seeding yet. They thought the ground was a little too cold, so they are waiting. But this week now with the warmer temperatures he says things are starting to move ahead.
“We really need a big rain down in southern Alberta here, or a big moisture event, whether it’s snow or rain to try to help us through,” said Jacobson. “And even probably that won’t be enough to carry us through. We’ll be looking for more timely rains later on in the year.”
The St. Mary River Irrigation District released information on their website April 25 that stated they are currently flushing canals and bringing the water up to operating levels as well as pipelines being charged with water. Water will be available to all users by the week of May 2-6.
Jacobson said it is not only crop producers who need to worry about moisture levels but also cattle producers and what the pasture situation will look like. He said they may have to start feeding cattle earlier than ever before.

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