Rain eases farmers’ fears
By Saskatoon Star Phoenix
Timely rains fell across much of Saskatchewan last Sunday, and may have dispelled many of the fears that crops would not survive late frost and dry heat, but there are still concerns that growers may not see a bumper crop.
June 23, 2009
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan -Rain that fell across the province on Sunday may well have saved a number of crops in western Saskatchewan that were set to wither away from a combination of late frosts and dry heat.
"I'm sure the entire province is relieved, it's almost as if your economy just went up . . . the economy of Saskatchewan grows with that drenching rain," said David Phillips, senior climatologist with Environment Canada.
In Saskatoon, 37 millimetres of rain fell on Sunday — one of only three days in the past decade so much rain has fallen in the area, Phillips said. The day-long downpour answered the prayers of many farmers unsure whether their crop would survive through the end of June, much less through to harvest.
"It was almost as if prayers were answered in spades, it really, truly turned a situation right around — you could almost see the Prairie greening up from this," he said.
The way the rain fell -a large volume of water falling consistently over many hours -is key to the importance of the downpour, Phillips explained. The rain lasted long enough and released enough water for moisture to travel down to plant root systems and help with soil water levels.
"This is the climax time of the growing season, if you didn't get it this week then I'm sure some farmers were going to pack it in," he said.
Grant McLean, a crop specialist with Saskatchewan Agriculture, said the weekend rain is particularly helpful to annual crops that are sown later in the year, such as wheat, barley and canola varieties.
Periodic rain is still needed during the next three to four weeks, he said from his Moose Jaw office, but Sunday's downpour — which missed much of the southwestern corner of the province — is a good start.
"We aren't going to have a bumper crop like we did last year, but certainly it's going to take the stress off the crop that (farmers) were feeling last week with the heat and the drier conditions," McLean said.
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