Prairie producers hoping for rain

Prairie producers hoping for rain
May 12, 2021

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Some parts of Western Canada are experiencing severe drought conditions

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer
Farms.com

Farmers in parts of Western Canada are hoping Mother Nature comes through with some well-needed rain.

Most of the Prairies are going through some sort of drought, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s (AAFC) Canadian Drought Monitor map indicates.

As of April 30, almost 80 per cent of the Prairies, including “93 percent of the region’s agricultural landscape” is experiencing drought, AAFC says.

AAFC drought map

The drought conditions range from abnormally dry near Lethbridge, Alta. to severe and extreme drought in communities like Estevan, Sask. and Portage la Prairie, Man.

The soil received enough moisture to begin seeding but not much more than that, said Bev Pirio, a grain producer from Radville, Ont.

“We got a mix of snow and rain before we started seeding and that gave us enough moisture to start the crop,” she told Farms.com. “We are going to be done seeding by Friday and right now the ground is just dry and dust.”

To offset the lack of moisture, some farmers have seeded their crops deeper into the soil.

But this practice could actually be worse for the crop, Pirio said.

“People usually seed at a favourable depth to help the plant grow but I’m finding other farmers I talk to are seeding a little deeper to access the moisture that’s deeper into the soil,” she said. “But that’s not conducive for most crops because (the plant) requires too much energy to push up all the way through.”

Leaders in other communities are restricting water use to conserve the local supply.

In Morden, Man., for example, local council wants to reduce local water use by 25 per cent.

For its agriculture community, “spraying and irrigation not permitted from City of Morden sources” unless a producer has a permit.

“We are trying to get ahead of (the summer forecast) and are looking to our community for help in reducing water consumption,” Brandon Burley, mayor of Morden, told CBC.

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