Long-awaited rain over long weekend has southern Alberta farmers optimistic

Click to play video: 'Farmers in southern Alberta grateful for moisture over long weekend' Farmers in southern Alberta grateful for moisture over long weekend
WATCH ABOVE: Farmers in southern Alberta grateful for moisture over long weekend – May 25, 2016

The lack of snow and frost coming out of the winter months had farmers roaring to go; then a dry spring nearly turned the tables.

Ryan Mercer was about two to three weeks ahead of schedule.

“It seems like we’ve been seeding for about a month now, or over a month, and I guess it’s OK to be spread out a bit at harvest time, it’s nice if everything isn’t ready at once.”

READ MORE: Rainfall, snowfall warnings in place for areas of central, southern Alberta

Once the crops were in, farmers were keeping an eye on the sky. In southern Alberta, precipitation was well below average — until the May long weekend.

“It was dry in southern Alberta, but even dryer in central Alberta, to the point where they were even having wind erosion problems a few weeks ago, so this rain has been very beneficial,” added Ross McKenzie, a research scientist in Lethbridge.

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“Most areas across Alberta had upwards of two inches, some areas even had as much as four.”

According to McKenzie, from May 18 to 24 Brooks saw 56 mm of precipitation, Bow Island had 47 mm, Lethbridge and Cardston saw 40 mm and Claresholm received 33 mm.

WATCH : Alberta campers face cool, wet weather on May long weekend 
Click to play video: 'Alberta campsites sit empty on May long weekend' Alberta campsites sit empty on May long weekend
Alberta campsites sit empty on May long weekend – May 20, 2016

Jennifer Dale with UFA said customers were reacting to the lack of moisture.

“We saw a lot more wheat and barley put in then maybe more of the high-crop input cost such as peas, lentils and canola, but then once we started to see the moisture in the forecast we saw the change back over to the high-input cost products.”

McKenzie said the rain came at just the right time for most grain farmers, but there are some producers that will still suffer from the early dry conditions.

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“It was…a little bit on the late side for our range land and pasture land but, [but] better a little bit late than not at all.”

He added it’s important with unpredictable growing conditions like we’ve seen this year that producers grow a variety of crops because some do better in dry conditions than others.

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