Winter weather has returned, but there’s no rush for crop seeding

The real problem comes when there's crop still left to be harvested, says agriculture expert.

Stettler and area residents were greeted by snow and rain over the Easter weekend, while Albertans in the northern and western parts of the province faced heavy winter storms.

While spring weather had made itself known throughout east-central Alberta over the last few weeks, winter conditions appear to be returning to the region.

According to Environment Canada however, this is nothing out of the ordinary.

“We often have a short memory when it comes to spring weather across the province,” commented Environment Canada Meterologist Kirk Torneby. “As much as this feels abnormal for March and April, it really isn’t. We forget about these winter type situations that can develop fast and move across the province.”

According to Torneby, the storm that made its way through the province developed from a low weather system that started in Montana and Idaho and swept northward throughout Alberta.

Torneby, however, is not expecting any worsening conditions for the Stettler region.

These wetter conditions come on the tail of slightly above average dryness over the last three months.

“Overall the winter was a little bit dryer than normal, and notably dry over the last month,” Torneby said.

However, he also explained that this winter was more normal than the one we experienced last year.

“Last year was one of the warmest and driest winters on record,” he said. “This winter was a more typical winter.”

Wet conditions won’t pose problems for crops

In terms of crop harvesting, wet conditions shouldn’t pose a problem unless you have crop that’s still in the ground, according to Harry Brook, crop specialist with Alberta Agriculture and Forestry.

“The real problem this year is the fact that there’s a significant amount of crop left out on the field to be harvested,” Brook said. “This weather’s not helping things dry out.”

Some people may have been hoping for an early spring this year, but Brook noted that this hope may be unfounded.

“We’re not having an early spring, we’re having an average spring,” he said. “And we’re also getting some moisture now which will further slow down the removal of the crop from the fields.”

For those waiting to begin seeding, Brook explains that the ideal timing can be hard to predict.

“We’re at a confluence of different major weather patterns in Alberta,” he said. “You get all of these weather systems jumbling up all together, and it means high variability of weather.”

With average conditions expected this year, though, Brook explained that “There’s every possibility of good germination and rapid emergence, but it depends so much on the weather.”