April 30, 2014 6:23 pm

Spring seeding slowdown

LETHBRIDGE: It’s not quite the prairie view farmers want to see.

The noticeable absence of farm machinery this time of year has some producers on edge.

Ryan Mercer is trying to keep busy with projects outside the field while he waits on mother nature. “It’s a little later than we are used to. Last year at this time we were 25 per cent done already.”

Alberta is experiencing a “later than normal” growing season, and while Alberta is getting a short spurt of sun now, it’s not enough.

“We’re a good two weeks behind schedule. We need two or three weeks of warm weather so the farmers can get  the spring work done, get the seed in the ground,” adds Joe Michielsen, Soil Moisture Technician for Alberta Agriculture.

Soil moisture in southern Alberta is considered right on point, but areas to the north are quite dry.

FF Leth Map Soil Moisture

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“Generally we have anywhere from 60 to 100 millimeters of water in the soil this time of year and that’s where we are at right now, you get around Lethbridge and they have less precipitation, if you get into east central Alberta they are actually dry,” adds Michielsen.

Only about seven per cent of the total land area in Canada is used for agriculture.

Most of the farm land is concentrated in the southern portion of the country.

What’s more,delayed growing season could have long term impacts on the industry.  That’s something companies like Du Pont Pioneer watch closely.

“Your supply is affected by those conditions and so there is less product on the market to sell so prices go up,” adds Production Location Manager Rick Bennerman.

As all farmers do, Mercer will continue to look to the skies and hope mother nature will be merciful.

“Having too much moisture on dry land is good problem to have so I don’t want to complain too much,” says Mercer.

April temperatures in the Lethbridge area were two to four degrees below average.

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