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Central Alberta seeding went well, now for some rain

Rain in next week or so important to get crops going
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Seeding is well underway in central Alberta but many farmers are looking for rain in the next few days to get crops going. Farmers were busy on Wednesday on this field a few kilometres south of Red Deer. (Photo by Paul Cowley/Advocate staff)

Firefighters tackling Alberta’s firefighters are not the only ones hoping for rain soon.

A warm spring helped get seeding off to a good start, but farmers in many parts of central Alberta now need some rain to kick off growing season.

“It’s extremely concerning right now with the amount of moisture that we’ve had,” said Red Deer County Mayor Jim Wood, who farms and raises cattle in the Delburne area.

As is often the case in Central Alberta, some farms have seen timely rains while others — sometimes the next farm over — have not had a drop.

“Some of our farmers have good rain and the neighbours have received no rain. It’s been very, very spotty.

“Where I live the sloughs are dry and we’re planting them, which is not a normal thing. Some of these soughs we haven’t planted for 20 years. So, it’s extremely dry.”

A similar situation happened about this time last year, but widespread rains in June helped get crops back on track.

“It seems like we’re in a dry cycle right now in the entire province,” he said, pointing as proof to the dozens of wildfires burning in many areas of the province.

“Hopefully, we’re going to see a change in the weather pattern, not just for agricultural producers but to help get these fires out. What they need is a big rain. That would help them more than absolutely anything right now.”

Jeff Nielsen, who is growing wheat, barley and canola on his Olds-area farm, said he completed seeding about five days ago and is also looking skyward in hopes of rain soon.

“I think the biggest concern right now is it is really drying up,” he said.

“A lot of people started (seeding) at the end of April and a lot of the early-seeded wheat and barley is germinating already.”

However, canola, which is seeded more shallow so the earth it sits in dries quicker, will especially need moisture to germinate properly.

“We just don’t want to see a whole year’s worth of rain in June like we did last year. We’d like to see it spread out a bit more.”

Nielsen, too, has those facing wildfires at the front of his thoughts. “I’d give (the rain) up to the northern people right away to get the fires under control.”

Larry Clarke has a cow-calf operation and farms about 1,000 acres in near Gadsby, which is about 25 kilometres east of Stettler, said some farmers got a little moisture last week but more rain would be welcomed by many after a dry spring.

“Out in our country it looked like we were going to get a really good runoff to fill the sloughs, but it never amounted to anything really.

“There are a lot of dry sloughs and a lot of livestock producers hauling water,” said Clarke, who is reeve in Stettler County.

Clarke said he got about 1 1/2 inches of rain in several showers last week, but others got only half an inch, and areas near the Battle River area got nothing.

Rain will be needed within the next two weeks to give crops the boost they need.

The longer-term forecast was calling for rain throughout many parts of central Alberta. How much is coming and who will get it will be up to Mother Nature.



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Seeding is well underway in central Alberta but many farmers are looking for rain in the next few days to get crops going. Farmers were busy on Wednesday on this field a few kilometres south of Red Deer. (Photo by Paul Cowley/Advocate staff)


Paul Cowley

About the Author: Paul Cowley

Paul grew up in Brampton, Ont. and began his journalism career in 1990 at the Alaska Highway News in Fort. St. John, B.C.
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