Central Alberta farmers are taking advantage of warmer weather

Balmy May allows some catch-up with seeding

The summer of 2017 is forecast to be hotter than average in Central Alberta.

The lead-up has been a warmer-and-drier-than-usual month of May.

“It’s been an interesting spring, so far,” said Environment Canada meteorologist Kirk Torneby. Weather across Canada has been “up and down” and hard to predict, with flooding in Montreal, storms in eastern Canada, and unsettled weather in the West.

But he added that patterns seem to have stabilized for the last few weeks in Central Alberta, bringing warmer, drier temperatures.

Thermostats are expected to rise to 26 C on Wednesday — which doesn’t approach the record setting high of 32.2 C from 1956, but is welcome after a miserable start to spring

Although April in Central Alberta was cooler and wetter than normal, Torneby said May was the exact opposite — it was the sixth warmest, and 23rd driest, in 30 years of record keeping.

May’s average temperature (as of Tuesday) was 12.1 C, compared to a more usual 9.7 C. As well, Torneby said only 35.8 mm of rain or snow fell last month, compared to the normal average of 55.4 mm for May. “You saw only three days of measurable precipitation, compared to 11 days, which is more usual for the month,” he added.

Since April was about 1 degree cooler and 5 mm wetter than is typical, some Central Alberta farmers fell behind with putting their crops into the ground.

About 15 per cent of acres destined for seeding are behind where they should be for this time of year, said Neil Whatley, a crop specialist for the Alberta Ag-Info Centre. He believes many area farmers will use this warmer, drier stretch to catch up.

If it stays nice, he predicts it won’t take long. “It’s progressing pretty well. It’s warm and windy and that will help extract wet moisture from the soil,” said Whatley, so seeding equipment won’t get mired in mud.

While there could be scattered thundershowers on Thursday or Friday, temperatures are expected to be in the low 20s this weekend.

The summer of 2017 is expected to be warmer than usual, according to some modeling, but Torneby said June tends to be a wetter month in this region. Weather patterns are now getting unsettled, so he said it’s hard to predict too far down the road this month.

lmichelin@reddeeradvocate.com

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