Producers acrossWestman are hoping winter hasn’t lost its hold on the region yet and that more snow will fall soon to ensure their soil has adequate moisture in time for seeding this spring.

While many people in this part of the province have been enjoying balmy, spring-like days, Keystone Agricultural Producers president Jill Verwey says she has heard from plenty of farmers who are worried about what this winter’s lack of precipitation could mean for the coming growing season.

“Most people are enjoying the seasonably milder weather, but when you see black fields showing up at this time of the year, (moisture) is always something that’s in the back of your mind,” she said.

Every fall, producers plan for the next growing season by buying seeds and they have an idea in their minds of what they want to put in the ground, Verwey said. But if spring rolls around without adequate moisture, that can mean they’re left having to make some quick changes in their plans.

“We went through drought in 2021 and 2022. There was significantly more rain and moisture in 2022, but again last year it was dry for most of the province,” Verwey said.

Farmers are hoping that February and March will feature more snow and later rain, she added. And thankfully, though temperatures above normal are still in the forecast for the next few days, the expected amount of precipitation is always subject to change, Verwey said.

“It can turn around pretty fast and then you get three to four inches of rain before we get to the field in the spring.”

Warren Ellis, who sits on the board of directors for Manitoba Canola Growers and farms near Wawanesa, said the ideal weather for the rest of February and heading

into spring would consist of a foot or two of snow and then gentle rain around the middle of April.

“That would warm up the soil and then we could get a crop planted,” Ellis said. After that, another inch of rain would be the best case scenario.

Ellis said he isn’t too worried yet about this winter’s lack of snow, since Manitoba weather is always unpredictable and could change at the drop of a hat from the mild, warmer temperatures western Manitoba has been experiencing to something snowier and colder.

“We do get some snow in March quite often, so we can turn around from lacking snow to having one blizzard,” he said. “This is Canada, after all.”

However, if precipitation doesn’t arrive by springtime, the situation could turn fairly serious. It’s something that producers are used to dealing with and is part of their everyday lives, Ellis said.

“We live with this uncertainty every year a little bit and we never lose a crop in February, so that’s good.”

Fall moisture maps for southwestern Manitoba on the province’s website show areas that had less than 100 millimetres of available moisture at a depth of 0-120 centimetres to small, isolated areas of more than 250 mm of moisture, although most of the region had around 100-200 mm.

By Miranda Leybourne, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Feb 03, 2024 at 07:40

This item reprinted with permission from   Brandon Sun   Brandon, Manitoba
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