It Hasn’t Rained In 42 Days

6 weeks. That’s how much time has passed since the last significant rainfall came to us. That is the longest stretch without rain (at this time of the year) I have seen in my time on the farm. In fact, according to historical data (click here), this has been the driest May in the Weyburn area in nearly two decades – and a whopping 46 years for the Regina area.

It’s dry. No question about it. The wind certainly hasn’t been helping matters either; yesterday, it was gusting up to 60 km/hr, just like it has so many other days this spring. I honestly don’t remember a spring this incessantly windy. It is actually extremely aggravating doing anything outside in wind like we’ve had. Just look at the graph below – it’s from one of our weather stations. That is a lot of windy days! And, that is only from the last month – April was very windy as well.

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The wind has been stripping what little moisture we had in our topsoil out, contributing to what amounts to a rather patchy crop. The good news is that we got a nice rain right at the start of seeding, and our soil was right full of water going coming out of winter. That left us with a nice buffer, and there is still a lot of moisture in our soil profile. Things aren’t desperate, not yet.

For the most part this spring, we actually had very nice seeding conditions. The soil was moist, planting conditions were perfect, and it wasn’t too hot. We really couldn’t have asked for better seeding conditions, and the majority of our crop shows it – our earlier seeded crop looks fantastic.

The last third of the crop we planted really needs a rain. Only about half to three-quarters of that later seeded crop has emerged so far, with the rest of it still sitting in the ground, waiting for moisture. The result is a patchy crop that is going to be all over the place for maturity.

The one crop suffering more than anything else is our winter wheat. The extensive soil 20170605_123530moisture reserves the other crops are enjoying are long gone for this fall-seeded crop, and it is hurting. We probably have a week to get a rain on this crop before it truly begins to fail. Crops just can’t survive that long without water. Six weeks of dry, windy weather is a lot to ask of any plant.

It has been a long time since our farm experienced a drought. In the last 10 years, we have been far more worried about excess moisture than being short of it. in 2011, we had 17 inches of rain between April and August; and we were saturated to begin with. This year, we have had a half inch of rain since March. Undoubtedly, that is a better situation to be in; there are a lot of farmers up north that are desperate for the dry weather we have been having. Being too wet brings all sorts of problems that we are all too familiar with.

It is too early to give up on this crop. It has a lot of things going for it, especially the early seeded acres. But we are running out of time for the rain to start. If we haven’t seen significant rainfall by the end of the next two weeks, we will be in trouble. Simply put, we need rain and we need it now. If only Mother Nature cared!


3 Thoughts

  1. I hope it will rain soon.
    I feel the anguish because once I really starved myself
    and prayed hard to rain for my former institute’s crop.

    Do not lose faith.

    Maybe it is an opportunity to study, re-plan again.
    What good should we do without rain for a period of time?

    Plan for a future proof crops maybe.

    I believe it will rain when the last moist in the soil dries up…
    Maybe God is holding back for us to think more deeply, creaTIVELY, positively and with more action:)

    Smile, Stay positive, I believe in you:)

  2. Jake
    Drought truly is the most humbling experience we can face as farmers. As the days pass, we face ever more apparent realities which no amount of adjustment in management can rectify. However it is in the action of our response that we capture the future opportunities. There are many young farmers amougat us learning of drought in the non abstract this spring and I truly hope the lesson is not too frustrating. I continue to enjoy your writing and encourage you to continue.
    Brad Eggum

  3. I understand your pain. I used to farm sugarcane on my 85 acres farm in Liberia (West Africa) and rain or no rain was never an issue because sugarcane was drought resistant, although yield was higher with more rain. Well, for economic reasons I decided to switch to food crops, like habanero peppers, corn, etc. and these crops are more susceptible to drought conditions, and rain, especially if the water sits in the field for more than a couple of days it will kill the crops. I think now I have a better handle on the weather pattern, and timing the plantings. Nature always wins it seems. I wish you all the best because it sucks when you lose your crops.

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