Alberta farmers would welcome snow right about now
Mild, dry weather doesn't bode well for a moist spring, expert says
Farmers are not warming up to the unseasonably pleasant weather Albertans are experiencing this winter.
Agrologist Paul Muyres, who works with farmers south of Edmonton, says if this weather continues it will lead to dry soil in the spring.
"We're going into this thinking we still have some time. It's not weighing on them yet," Muyres said.
He added farmers paid the price last year when they planted crops late during the hot summer.
This winter, farmers are looking for much more rain and snow.
"We just simply don't have enough snow or precipitation this winter to alleviate some of the issues that we had last year, already," Muyres said.
"We're going to see a lot of guys trying to get their crop in as early as they possibly can to maximize the soil moisture that's there.
"That is going to put a lot of pressure on getting the crop in."
CBC meteorologist Johanna Wagstaffe says a great deal of snow is not expected for the rest of this El Nino winter.
"It's not unusual to see a below-seasonal snowfall, but this has been exceptionally low."
Not ready to push panic button
Ralph Wright, a soil moisture specialist with Alberta Agriculture, said even though the snowpack in the Edmonton area is at a 12-year low, he's not about to push the panic button.
"We can have below-normal snowpacks at the time of melt, which is typically the beginning of April, but then we can get wonderful rains in April and May," Wright said.
"For farmers, the most important rains are really near the end of May, June, July and beginning part of August. So that's what'll really make the difference for those that are cropping.
"There isn't a connection between the snowpack today and what we'll see in the growing season, historically if we look at the record."
Ward Toma, general manager at Alberta Canola Producers Commission, isn't ready to push the panic button either, but he says this mild, dry weather can't last forever.
"Historically, [we] tend to get a bit of snow in February and in March," he said. "So it's still not a complete disaster quite yet, but if were to not get any snow, it would be a very concerning situation, a very concerning start to the spring."
Snow must fall this month and next, but for now the situation is on hold, Toma said.
"We're concerned, but no one's panicking quite yet."