Spring remains elusive — but hope is on the way

Spring, where are you?

With daily highs of -8 C and wind chills dipping into the – 20s, it’s been a brutal spring across much of the Prairies.

As evidence, Medicine Hat, Alta., is usually a pleasant spot in early April with daily highs of 10 to 13 C.

Not this year.

In the first two weeks of April, the average daily high in Medicine Hat was 2.7 C.

That’s 3.4 degrees colder than the historical average high for the month of March.

The story is even nastier in Melfort, Sask.

In April, so far, the temperature climbed above zero for two days – reaching a scorching 2.1 C April 10. Between April 1-14 the average high temperature in Melfort was -5.6 C.

The average daily low is scarier, -15.4 C.

That’s about four degrees colder than the historical average for Melfort in March.

The numbers tell a frosty and unhappy tale, but t-shirt weather could be around the corner.

The second half of April and the remainder of spring looks promising.

“This last cold bout may just be winter’s last hurrah,” David Phillips, senior climatologist with Environment Canada, told CBC News.

“We just have to just get over what has been a coolish kind of a spring.”

However, temperatures in the teens may not arrive until April 20 or 21. From that point until early June, prairie farmers need several weeks of favourable weather to get a crop in the ground.

The 2020 seeding season will be more complex than usual. There could be two to three million acres of unharvested crop in Western Canada and most growers couldn’t apply fertilizer last fall because it was too wet, snowy and cold.

“We didn’t get any on and talking to the fertilizer retail (dealers), they only had a small number of loads go out (in the fall),” said Simon Ellis, who farms near Wawanesa, Man.

Ellis and thousands of other growers will need to apply fertilizer to their fields this spring, either before seeding or at seeding.

“We’ll try to get it on as quick as possible. We’ve checked with our suppliers and they swear up and down that it will be available.”

When spring weather does arrive, Ellis and other farmers will go full throttle to get their crop seeded.

In the meantime, he’s coping with a weather hangover from 2019.

“Trying to fix equipment from last fall, after snow went through it,” Ellis said.

“We were combining soybeans and flax in blizzards. Apparently, snow and combines don’t mix very well.”

Contact robert.arnason@producer.com

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