As last week’s snowfall absorbs into the ground, farmers across our region are letting out sighs of relief. Drought-like conditions this past winter and early spring were beginning to cause concern among producers and the thick blanket of snow across the province last week acted as a bit of a comforter.
“It certainly isn’t going to stave off a summer’s worth of dryness, if that is what we are expecting,” says Dane Froese, Oilseed Specialist for Manitoba Agriculture, “but it will help.”
Prior to the recent precipitation, Froese says the soil was, at best, holding only about 40 per cent of its water capacity. That extremely low percentage reflects the complete lack of snow there was this past season.
“We were looking at a very very dry spring going into seeding, which is unusual for this time of year,” he comments. “So we’re grateful for any moisture that we can get and this past week’s snowfall offered us a huge boost.”
Once thoroughly melted, the snow will seep into the first few layers of dirt, giving farmers enough quality soil to begin seeding. If the forecast holds, Froese expects they will be taking to the fields en masse later this week in order to do what they can to take advantage of the limited moisture.
“The gates will open across all of Manitoba, the southeastern region included, as soon as it warms up after the snowmelt.”
As it is still considerably dryer than average, Froese says farmers will have to make some adjustments to compensate. He anticipates many farmers will embrace gentler fertilizer placement strategies this season in an effort to disturb the least amount of soil possible, prevent it from drying out.
Meanwhile, he expects to see moderate changes to seeding trends this year. Thanks to an increase in certain commodity prices, Froese says oilseeds like canola and soybeans will be increasingly popular; pea acres too are projected to increase. He says most other crops and cereals will likely remain flat.