Drought in southern Prairie regions
All the Prairie provinces, especially southern regions, are experiencing moderate drought conditions, according to Canada’s Drought Monitor.
The hot dry weather is advancing harvest, but without any rain, yield potential decreases daily. Harvest may be sooner than expected in selected areas.
In Alberta, provincial crop conditions ratings dropped 1.2 percentage points. South and central Alberta crop conditions are below the provincial average, northwest Alberta is on par with the average, and northeast and Peace crop conditions are above the provincial average.
In reviewing the condition of the major crops, spring wheat fell 1.8, barley slipped 1.9, oats declined 1.1, canola sank 2.5 and peas saw the largest decline of 3.6 per cent, according to Alberta Agriculture’s latest crop report.
For Alberta, concerns about yield and quality potential continue. Unfortunately, precipitation during the growing season has not been enough to support desired crop development. Alberta Agriculture reports that the lack of available hay and pasture has led to poorer and hail damaged crops being cut for feed.
In Saskatchewan, topsoil moisture conditions are reported as very short to short across southwest and central regions in the province. Provincial topsoil moisture conditions on cropland are currently rated as 42 per cent adequate, 40 per cent short and 18 per cent very short, according to Saskatchewan’s latest crop report.
In the southern regions, harvest is most advanced and three per cent of the crop is combined. Most producers in the central and northern regions are expecting to be in the field within the next few weeks.
The majority of crop damage in Saskatchewan this past week is attributed to lack of moisture, strong winds and hot temperatures. Some areas, including Cabri and Leader, received hail that caused severe damage to crops.
Across the Prairies, livestock feed is the main weather concern and some pastures are starting to dry out. Areas around Regina, which faced dry conditions last year, are also starting to face water supply issues.
The trend of dry weather is not new, and the Prairie climate the coming decades could include droughts that last up to 10 years or extreme swings between wet and dry conditions. Knowing the long-term forecast has resulted in the Prairie provinces adapting and preparing for the dry weather.