June 25th, 2024

Spring moisture a blessing for area fields and farmers

By Alejandra Pulido-Guzman - Lethbridge Herald on May 28, 2024.

Herald photo by Alejandra Pulido-Guzman Irrigation equipment sits out in a field on Monday north of the city. Recent precipitation has helped farmers move the farming process along, even though seeding took place a little later than usual.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDapulido@lethbridgeherald.com

With moisture being essential for farming the drought has put farmers’ schedules behind, but the recent precipitation has helped move the process along.

Ken Coles, executive director of Farming Smarter spoke to the Herald Monday morning and said the recent precipitation will help southern Alberta in a big way.

“Our reservoirs were completely depleted, our soil profiles were completely depleted and to have this amount of rain right now is pretty much Heaven- sent. It will generate billions of dollars in revenue for southern Alberta,” said Coles.

He explained that southern Albertans live in a semi-arid region, where there is more water leaving the system by evaporation than the amount of precipitation we are getting, and the area has been experiencing below normal precipitation for many years.

Water is everything to agriculture, said Coles.

“The area that I cover is basically South of Highway 1 and in that area there’s close to 14 million acres of rain-fed agriculture and about 1.7 million acres of irrigation, which has been tremendously beneficial to developing value-added industries like potatoes, seed, canola, dry beans, sugar beets and so on,” said Coles.

He said due to drought conditions farmers have to come up with practices that will protect the soil and conserve as much moisture as possible because moisture is the single limiting factor in crop production in this area.

“Irrigation helps but only if we have water and this year water supplies were depleted to basically nothing. So this big rain in March, which is above average, helped fill the soil profiles in all that dry-land agriculture,” said Coles.

He said lack of moisture creates complications for the farming process as it delays seeding, but thanks to the recent precipitation farmers are happy to be able to get that seeding done.

“We are definitely behind schedule, but I think there’s been a lot done. There has been lots of times where we’re done seeding by the beginning of May, and we are still seeing lots of seeders rolling,” said Coles.

 He said a lot of farmers are done seeding now, but others would probably be done in one more week.

When asked about seeding schedules affecting harvest time, Coles said it is too early to tell as that will depend on growing conditions that are yet to come. He used corn as an example.

“It’s possible that the corn might be a tiny bit late, but if it’s really hot it can catch up. I think we might have a slightly later harvest than we are used to, but we don’t know what’s going to happen yet,” said Coles.

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Southern Albertan

…but, the dry, hot weather is starting. A situation of the crops looking good now, but fizzling out in July? Been there, done that.


fingers crossed for a traditional serving of june rains, and more of the below average temps.. otherwise, yup, we will shrivel up quite quickly.should july and august hit us with the usual 30s.

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