UPDATED: Heavy rain to cause headaches for farmers

UPDATED: Tuesday July 12, 2016 – 0830 CST – Saskatchewan farmers are keeping anxious eyes on the skies today and for the next 48 hours as a low pressure system stalled over southern regions is expected to bring heavy rain and in some cases strong winds.

The Estevan region already experienced flooding yesterday evening after 130 millimetres of rain fell in two hours and the city declared a state of emergency.

See aerial drone footage of the flooding in Estevan here.

Weather warnings were in effect this morning for almost the entire grain belt. Only the northwest and east-central regions were spared.

Environment Canada is predicting rainfall up to 100 mm in most areas and winds up to 90 km-h in the southwest before the system moves into Manitoba Wednesday.

Shannon Friesen, acting crop management specialist at the provincial Ag Knowledge Centre in Moose Jaw, said reports were already coming in of standing water in fields and drowned crops in low spots.

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“Quality-wise, we’ll have to wait and see,” she said.

“This rain is really going to create more of a headache for all of us.”

She noted there are lots of lentil and pea acres this year, and pulse crops don’t like wet soils. Most fields already had adequate or surplus moisture to begin with.

There are also lots of first-time lentil growers who have been phoning to find out what heavy rain might mean for their crops, she said.

Friesen said the moisture will contribute to more root rots and faster spread of ascochyta and anthracnose.

Heavy rain is likely to cause lodging and could knock flowers off crops that are blooming earlier than usual.

“Hopefully the cereals and canola can take it,” Friesen said.

Harvest will be more difficult for lodged crops. Some producers were hoping to begin combining in the next couple of weeks.

“Thankfully nothing has ripened to the point of harvest,” she said. “It may still have time to recover.”

Heavy rain won’t help haying operations or hay quality, either.

The Water Security Agency is warning Saskatchewan residents of possible localized flooding due to the low-pressure system currently stalled over the south.

The heaviest rain is expected from Swift Current to Hudson Bay and general accumulations of 50 millimetres are expected. However, as much as 100 mm are possible in some areas.

The WSA said most of the landscape can absorb these amounts but some places could experience flooding.

“The severe thunderstorm that impacted Estevan yesterday was very local to the community,” said a WSA statement issued Monday morning. “While locations within the community received up to 125 mm, outside of the city at the airport only 73 mm was observed and direct precipitation on nearby Boundary Reservoir was only about 30 mm.”

Full flood storage is available in Rafferty Reservoir and the Qu’Appelle Valley is not expected to see significant inflow from the storm.

Contact karen.briere@producer.com

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