Farmland across Saskatchewan is either too dry, too wet, or somewhere in between.
The answer to the question do you need more snow or rain this spring depends on which part of the province you call.
Saskatchewan Agriculture measures cumulative rainfall and topsoil moisture levels each summer.
Michael Fister farms near Coronach, which had the driest topsoil conditions going into the fall according to the Sask. Agriculture map.
“Even last year, in this area here, we were too dry last year too, this is our second year,” he said.
He said there was some rain last fall, so the subsoil shouldn’t be too bad, but they sure could use some rain or wet snow. While it’s too early to tell what the spring will hold, he said the talk on coffee row is a bit concerned.
“They’re worried, they’re kind of worried about the canola, any small seeds like the mustards and the canolas – for germination because you don’t seed them very deep,” he said.
Coronach and Weyburn along with the southwest region around Maple Creek, Leader and Kindersley had the least amount of rainfall last summer. This map shows the cumulative rainfall in the summer of 2015.
Steven Berg farms south of Weyburn, where farmland is on a thin line between being too wet and too dry.
He said it was so dry this year that some producers were able to get land back they lost to flooding years ago. There is virtually no run-off from melting snow, but moisture levels were up last fall.
“It’s a 50-50 mix, as an RM, we didn’t have to move any snow, we didn’t have to worry about roads flooding or washing out, but more for the pastures and grain producers it’s a scary outlook when you don’t have early spring moisture,” Berg explained.
He said there’s not a lot of concern about the dry conditions just yet because there is still plenty of potential for snow and rain. However, if the weather continues to be dry until the end of April, farmers might get worried.
In Gainsborough, producers like Lee Stanley say the soil is still very wet.
“We’re actually sitting pretty good right now, I think everyone’s a little nervous because it’s been so wet in this area for so long, but right now we have adequate moisture, leaning towards excessive,” Stanley said.
On Monday night the area was hit by a surprise thunderstorm from the U.S. He said they don’t need any more snow or rain.
He said most of the extra water from flooding in 2014 has finally receded, but the moisture in the topsoil is oversaturated and it wouldn’t take much to put it over the edge.
“The running joke around Gainsborough is we’re one storm away from disaster again,” Stanley commented.
In central Saskatchewan, the Melfort and Tisdale area shows the highest soil moisture levels going into the winter.
“We had a very wet fall last fall and there was lots of moisture in the ground when we went into winter,” explained Ken Naber, who farms outside Melfort. “In fact there’s some crops still out here yet that didn’t get harvested because the ground was too wet to carry machinery.”
Unfortunately, the same area has also been hit with more snow and rain through the winter, including a big dump this week and he said they don’t need any more.
“We certainly don’t need anything until the first of June, that’s for sure,” he said.
He said half the fields were covered with snow before the most recent snow fall this week and the run-off from the melting snow is high because the soil is so saturated.
This map shows the accumulated precipitation this winter for the entire prairie region.