By Marcia Love
It’s been a bone-dry spring, and producers are anxiously awaiting the rain that has been forecast to come over the last several days, but has only made a very brief appearance.
Environment Canada says precipitation in the Southwest from October to May has been about 57 per cent of what it normally is.
Last month, Maple Creek only got eight millimetres of precipitation. It typically receives 47 mm.
Environment Canada’s senior meteorologist David Phillips said rain this month will be crucial, as this summer is expected to be warmer than normal.
“June you depend upon that moisture,” he said, adding this is usually the wettest month for the area, with Maple Creek typically receiving 77 mm of rain during this time. “If it’s going to be warmer than normal, you want some safety, you want some insurance in the bank for moisture.”
According to Environment Canada, Maple Creek typically receives about 72 mm of precipitation in April and May combined. So far this year only 16.5 mm has fallen.
“You’re less than a quarter of what you would get,” Phillips stated.
It’s a problem that’s stretching across the Southwest and on to Regina. But the meteorologist said that while most areas have had less than 40 per cent of normal moisture levels this growing season, Maple Creek is at just 23 per cent.
“The last time you got generous precipitation was March,” Phillips said.
While farmers were optimistic as seeding got under way early across the Southwest, they’re now left wondering what’s to come. With the region leading the way in seeding progress as over 90 per cent of crops were reported to be in the ground as of last week, rain would make many very happy.
Down by Consul, Terry Reamer and other producers are watching the skies and playing the waiting game. While the area saw maybe a tenth of an inch of rain on Saturday, he said it’s been the moisture from the fall that’s gotten them through so far.
“I think our dry land hay is pretty well nil,” he said.
If the rain doesn’t show up by mid-June, Reamer plans to sell most of his yearlings. He’s not the only producer considering this.
The hail storm that hit the Consul area last summer hasn’t helped the situation either.
“We lost all our old grass. It busted it all off,” he said, noting the hail stones were as big as eggs.
“As far as the cropland goes, it came up nice. It’s not doing a lot right now… but if we ever got a rain and some warm weather it would just take off.”
The warm, dry weather has been caused by a bridge of high-pressure.
“It’s been blocking storm systems from coming your way for several weeks now,” Phillips explained.
However, it looks like it’s beginning to weaken, he added.
“The good news is that welcomed, refreshing rain which is going to give the fields an instant transfusion – just a nice, gentle kind of rain,” the meteorologist said. “It may not be great for drinking beer on outdoor patios, but who cares? There’s a lot of time for that to come.”
Thunderstorms are forecast for today.
While the summer is expected to be warmer than normal, Phillips said it’s hard to say what precipitation will be like.
But if the pig spleen forecast is any indication, the start of June will see a significant warming trend starting at the beginning of the month and lasting all month. There will be intermittent rain at the beginning of the month, ending between June 10 and 15. After this, the rest of the month will be warm and relatively dry.