Expect Another Hot, Dry Summer on the Canadian Prairies

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2022 weather predictions point to another unfavourable growing season for Western Canadian growers.

Scott Kehler
Scott Kehler, president and chief scientist at Weatherlogics

From droughts, to floods, to Derecho events, Mother Nature is uncontrollable. Weather is one of the most critical components to yield and every year growers are at its mercy. While uncontrollable, Mother Nature’s twists and turns don’t have to be altogether unpredictable.

“The Maritimes have been fairly wet and, in terms of cold, it has been slowing over the past month,” says Scott Kehler, president and chief scientist at Weatherlogics, that provides weather information to farmers and other customers to help them make smarter decisions. “The western part of the Prairies has been a bit warmer, while Manitoba has been cold and Alberta, the Maritimes, and Ontario were on the warm side this winter as well.”

Warm temperatures could be a common occurrence moving into the planting and growing season. Kehler predicts that growers in the western parts of the United States and Canada will have warmer-than-normal temperatures in the late spring and early summer timeframe.

High Temps, Low Moisture Could Mean a Long, Hard Season

After a cold, snowy winter, many are eagerly awaiting warmer temperatures and a productive planting season. Count the snow as good fortune as it helped replenish, to at least a small degree, soil moisture after 2021’s exceedingly dry growing season.

“Our forecast is for less precipitation than normal in most of western Canada and the northwestern U.S.,” Kehler explains. “In eastern Canada, we’re actually seeing the forecast favour wetter-than-normal conditions.”

However, blanket statements showcasing wetter- or drier-than-normal conditions are tough to make. These areas will still experience popup thunderstorms, which will inflate precipitation accumulation in single events. It’s important to note, quick thunderstorms often don’t benefit the soil and crop as much because it comes down so hard and fast the soil can’t absorb it properly.

“If you think back to the trend we saw last year, this will be similar,” he says. Similar to last year, Kehler is predicting eastern Canada will see a greater number of thunderstorms. These can bring damaging hail and wind and is something to be aware of when planning this season.

What to Expect for Planting Season

As growers dial-in planters and get ready for another season, it’s time to look to the skies to see what the spring season holds.

“To start the spring, we will probably see a little bit more precipitation, even more than normal before it turns dry later in the summer,” Kehler says. “Planting conditions in Alberta, where the snow is all but melted, will favour an earlier start.

“Whereas in Manitoba, there’s still a significant amount of snow on the ground. This will cause issues of flooding as it melts and also cause fields to be wetter. However, I don’t think those in Manitoba will have an overly delayed start unless a lot of rain comes at the end of April,” he explains.

The eastern part of the country is expected to have a normal start to the season. Overall, Kehler doesn’t expect any major deviations from a typical planting season.

For some, this year will be another in a line of especially challenging seasons. However, the outlook isn’t entirely bleak for the potato industry.

“Unfortunately, we’re looking at another hot, dry summer for western Canada,” Kehler says. “The only good thing is we’ve had a fair big of snow on the eastern Prairies that will give us that decent start, but we’ll need more moisture throughout the spring to keep things on the right track. I think the Maritimes are in the best shape overall, so the outlook for potatoes there is very good.”

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