Slow spring, late seeding the new norm

Are late springs becoming the trend for prairie weather?


While pockets of Western Canada have seen what are usually considered average seeding dates, it seems that in the past five years, weather has caused more than its share of late season planting.


In the 30 or so years I’ve been interested in those dates, I typically remember seeding starting in late April and early May. Planting would be mostly wrapped up by the end of the fifth month.


I was curious to see if I was right or if maybe my memory was slipping and the farmer part of me was just filled with wishful thinking. So, where else would I turn to check out that sort of information but The Producer?


I looked back through late May editions and, sure enough, the headlines proved me right. 


Late seeding, and in some cases no seeding, has been the case for many prairie farmers over the past five years.


Just to be sure, I looked even further back. While there were generally stories about late-season seeding, it usually involved reseeding for frost, winter-killed winter wheat or late May and early June hail storms (excuse me while I turn three times, touch my wooden head and apologize to Boreas, the God of cold northern winds, if I have mistakenly summoned him).


This year, seeding started late because of cold temperatures, which were followed by untimely rain and a lack of hot, windy days to take that moisture away. This is especially true in southeastern Saskatchewan and southern Manitoba.


The blessings of later, warmer fall seasons over the past five years have been visited on the many, but not all. 


As a result, farmers have harvested crops that reached full maturity in the first weeks of September, rather than the more traditional third week of August.


I decided to check out some more back issues of the WP, this time in the fall. It seems that in years when the crop is seeded late, there are few harvest-time headlines of frozen grain and early snows. I like that, even if it’s a coincidence.


For my own sake, and many of yours, I hope that later seeded crops grow faster than their ratings, miss the insect timing that might damage them and that Boreas has discovered joys of September and October holidays, after the kids are back in school and the leaves have turned.