Spring weather means seeding time for farmers in southern Alberta.
Gary Stanford farms near Magrath Alta., and he’s been busy planting for the last week.
“The ground was a little bit cold, so we waited until it warmed up a bit and the cold weather was over,” he said.
Despite a little snow in his area this March, Stanford said so far 2022 is looking dry.
“We have a little bit of moisture to hopefully get the seed started, but we really need rain bad,” he said.
“It’s very dry in this area.”
Autumn Barnes is the manager of the Integrated Agriculture Technology Centre for Lethbridge College. She said some parts of Alberta have received a bit more rain, but it is dry right across the south.
“Up north of Vulcan and then southeast of Lethbridge, this is multiple years of drought in a row,” Barnes said.
“For a lot of the Prairies, last year was really dry. But there… (are) parts of Alberta — or southern Alberta — that have been dry for four or five years, so we really badly need some moisture here.”
Barnes added that the dry fall conditions followed by little precipitation this spring prompted some farmers to change their seeding plans. However, most are still hoping for the best.
“There is going to be a little bit of shuffling, but in southern Alberta we sort of need to plan for what likely is going to happen. We are going to get some rain at some point and just sort of try and cross our fingers and do what we can to manage what happens with the weather.”
Stanford noted grain prices remain strong, which is promising, but unfortunately, input costs are also high.
“Last year we paid 90 cents a litre for diesel fuel and today its $1.30 for diesel — and also our fertilizer; last year we paid $600 a ton and now it’s over $1,200 a ton.”
Stanford said using no-till farming practices in drought years like this can be critical in crop production.
“It’s just so warm and windy in southern Alberta, so we are trying to do as good a job as we can to do one pass over and save the moisture,” he said.
Stanford added it’s important tp protect it because you just don’t know when you’ll be getting more.