Wet weather serves farmers – and bugs?

Wetter than average weather, mixed with some sun, is creating perfect conditions for spring seeding in Central Alberta. “It looks ideal — we’ve got good soil moisture and some good heat,” said Neil Whatley, a crop specialist for Alberta Agriculture.

Wetter than average weather, mixed with some sun, is creating perfect conditions for spring seeding in Central Alberta.

“It looks ideal — we’ve got good soil moisture and some good heat,” said Neil Whatley, a crop specialist for Alberta Agriculture.

Between the rain and freezing snow that fell in April, the Red Deer area received a total of 44.4 mm of precipitation last month, double the April average of 22.6 mm.

The wet trend actually started with late March snowfalls and is now spilling over into May. Environment Canada meteorologist John McIntyre said 43.4 mm of rain fell during this first week — which already puts us most of the way towards the 56 mm normal for the entire month.

Now that the soil is nicely saturated, Central Alberta farmers are starting to get the heat they need to bring up weeds, which they then “burn off” with the chemical glyphosate, said Whatley.

“It looks good,” he added, for canola and barley seeding to be completed on schedule by the end of May.

While wetter weather could seemingly create a bigger than usual mosquito problem, that doesn’t seem to be happening this year.

Ken Lehman, the City of Red Deer’s parks planning and ecological specialist, noted there was a smaller than usual snow pack this winter, which may be counter balancing all the spring wetness.

“We have seen moderate mosquito development, so it’s business as usual,” Lehman added.

City workers spread a bacteria-based product (bacillus thuringiensis) across certain water surfaces to kill mosquito larvae. Lehman said the product was applied after the snow melted and might need to be used once or twice more this spring, and after significant summer rainfalls.

The City of Red Deer is about to send out a tip sheet on reducing the mosquitoes populations to local residents along with the next utility bills. The tips include covering rain barrels, removing containers that can collect water from yards and cleaning out rain gutters.

Other than being wetter than usual, Central Alberta’s spring weather seems about par for the course.

McIntyre said while temperatures may have seemed more cool and overcast, daily highs in the Red Deer area are lining up with averages. The mean temperature, or average of highs and lows, for April was 4.6C, compared to the monthly usual of 4.2C.

So far, the mean for the first week of May has been 6.8C, but McIntyre noted it’s early yet and things should warm up. The average for the entire month is supposed to be 9.8C.

This week is starting off with a high pressure system from the southwest, which brought a sunny high of 19C on Monday and an anticipated high of 23C today.

While a cold pressure system is supposed to cause showers and a 14C high on Wednesday, and plunge Thursday’s temperature to 9C with northwest winds, McIntryre said this will be short-lived “blip.”

“Next weekend will be awesome and sunny in the 20s,” he added.

lmichelin@bprda.wpengine.com

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