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Lethbridge County officials, farmers worried about lack of rain this spring

Click to play video: 'No flood concerns in Lethbridge County but many worried about soil moisture' No flood concerns in Lethbridge County but many worried about soil moisture
WATCH: Lethbridge County is no stranger to snowmelt causing floods, but this year could see the opposite problem for farmers – Mar 26, 2019

Ryan Mercer and his team feel like they’re getting a head start on seeding the fields compared to last year.

In 2018, the farmers weren’t able to start until May 1, which ultimately cost them.

“We had yields that were probably a third less than they should’ve been because they were seeded late,” said Mercer, owner of Mercer Seeds Ltd.

Last year’s delay was due to the amount of flooding that took place throughout southwestern Alberta.

READ MORE: Municipal District of Taber warns residents about overland flooding

Thankfully, less snowfall, along with preventative work done in 2018, means less risk of damage this spring.

“Some of the trenches we dug last year were still in place this year. That helped a lot so (we) definitely (took) more precautions this year than we did last year,” he said.

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A rapid thaw saw the county, the Town of Taber and the Municipal District of Taber issue local states of emergency last year because of overland flooding.

READ MORE: Lethbridge County declares local state of emergency due to flooding

Lethbridge County Reeve Lorne Hickey said he’s glad this year’s spring melt hasn’t been a hot topic, but there are other issues that are top of mind.

“We were fortunate that there wasn’t a large snowpack compared to last year, but I guess that does raise another issue. That’s the lack of overall moisture going into the cropping year,” Hickey said.

Mercer agrees and added that even though local farmers can start seeding earlier than last year, the dry soil could work against them.

“It’s not as good as it could be. We’re actually hoping once the frost is out of the ground that we do get some rain and wet snow in the next couple of weeks to help to replace that sub moisture,” he said.

Whether that happens remains to be seen, but forecasts are calling for below-normal precipitation levels across the southern part of the Prairies this spring.

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