Forecaster predicts cool spring on Prairies

Growers should expect a sluggish start to spring, says the Weather Network.

The long, cold winter will continue to exert its influence, resulting in below normal temperatures through much of April, especially in Sask-atchewan and Manitoba.

“The more east you go, the more chances of below seasonal temperatures you’re going to get,” said network meteorologist Elena Lappo.

“In Alberta, it’s going to be a bit closer to normal temperatures.”

Ed Rempel, a grower from Starbuck, Man., has heard a similar forecast calling for cooler-than-usual weather for the next three weeks.

Manitoba growers who weren’t waterlogged have been spoiled the last few years, he said. Seeding has been starting by the end of April or early May, which usually results in bigger crops that avoid summer heat damage.

“This year it may be that spring seeding doesn’t commence until a more traditional time period like the middle of May,” said Rempel.

It would compress seeding time and force farmers to juggle the recent pecking order for when crops go in the ground.

“Typically on my farm, soybeans are the last crop to be seeded because we’re waiting for the soil to warm up,” said Rempel.

That will change if seeding doesn’t start until mid-May because soybeans also require more frost-free days than most other crops.

“The day that the soil is warm enough to seed beans, we will drop everything else and we will seed soybeans,” he said.

Rempel doesn’t expect growers to abandon soybeans, but getting them in the ground will be trickier and could push canola and wheat seeding back later than it has been recently.

Lappo said the cooler-than-normal forecast doesn’t mean there won’t be periods of above normal temperatures because spring weather is typically volatile.

“There’s definitely going to be times when we’re going to be seeing above normal temperature spells,” she said.

“They’re just going to be shorter.”

The lingering cool conditions that have been around since December will eventually be broken as the days get longer and the sun becomes stronger.

“Especially as we get into May, we’re definitely going to start seeing much warmer weather,” said Lappo.

Spring precipitation is expected to be normal for most of the Prairies.

“Sounds good to me,” said Rempel.

The exception could be in the Alberta foothills, where a high-pressure system from the north is expected to cause winds that normally blow from the west to blow from the east, which will produce showers against the base of the Rocky Mountains.

Some areas of the Prairies have little snow cover, so those growers could be seeding earlier than normal if they get a prolonged hot spell in spring and don’t have excess rainfall.

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