Thursday, February 02, 2023

Millions of acres in Canada will go unplanted

| June 28, 2010 9:00 PM

Not only have we received near-record rains since El Nino died in the waters of the Pacific Ocean early this past spring, but millions of acres of crops in the western half of Canada won't be planted this cool, soggy 2010 season. June 20 marked the 'point of no return' for seeding operations.

Farmers in western Manitoba, for example, have left at least 15 percent of their crop acres unseeded due to excessive amounts of moisture in recent weeks.

In the Minnedosa region of southwestern Manitoba, as much as 30 percent of the cropland will not get seeded, although a cover crop may be planted for feeding purposes, if things dry out and warm up by early July as expected under an expanded ridge of high pressure.

Significant rains have also cut 2010 plantings across northwestern Canada this spring and early summer. At least 10 percent of the fields are still flooded, appearing more like 'lakes' than fields. As of this writing, Thursday, June 24, more than 15 percent of the fields remained unseeded.

Canada is the leading global producer of canola and spring wheat. The country is second only to Russia in oat production.

Even where the crops have been planted, the extremely wet conditions are causing yellowing, poor root development and premature bolting. Many fields are choked by weeds and overrun by a variety of plant-damaging insects. Cereal leaf diseases are prevalent. Heat-loving crops are suffering from the lack of sunshine and warm temperatures. It's not a pretty picture.

Many states bordering Canada, including Washington, Idaho, Montana, the Dakotas and Minnesota, are likewise enduring severe problems from the unusually damp, cool weather patterns of 2010.

Widespread lowland flooding has occurred frequently as the result of torrential downpours. Large-sized hail, strong straightline winds and 'rare' tornadoes have caused severe damage in places like Billings, Mont., and parts of the Dakotas, Minnesota and northern Iowa.

The tornado which tore the roof off the Rimrock Auto Area and damaged many other commercial buildings on Sunday afternoon, June 20, the last day of spring, was the first large twister to hit the Billings area in more than a half-century.

Hail the size of golf balls flattened emerging crops twice last week in parts of weather-ravaged eastern Montana and North Dakota. Many fields were swamped by 3-5-inch rains.

One of my long-time farmer consultation clients from southeastern North Dakota near Fargo didn't harvest the rest of his 2009 corn crop until June 2, nearly 8 months later than normal!

Another farmer from Manitoba believes that the North Country has already entered the early stages of a new 'Little Ice Age.' He's been plagued by a series of shorter growing seasons since the 'sun went silent' in 2007.

He isn't planted yet, and I'm predicting a hard season-ending freeze in the Prairie Provinces of Canada and the north-central U.S. by no later than the 'new moon' cycle of Sept. 8-15. Temperatures at this time, especially if we see a new, much cooler 'La Nina' sea-surface temperature event develop in the waters of the Pacific Ocean, may dip into the frigid teens and 20s in parts of Montana, the Dakotas, Wyoming, Minnesota and the Prairie Provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and, possibly even portions of British Columbia to the west and Ontario to the east.

Next week, I'll answer some questions concerning the possible early arrival of a new 'Little Ice Age.' I'll also include an updated climate (temperature) chart.


The 'good news' weatherwise is that our extremely wet spring season, the third dampest such period in the Coeur d'Alene region since at least 1895, is finally winding down. It hasn't been 'rainless' this week, but it sure has been 'raining less.'

Temperatures at midweek soared into the lower 80s throughout the Inland Empire following maximum readings early in the week in the low to mid 50s accompanied by near-record late June rains.

As of this sunny Thursday morning writing, it appeared as if this year's Ironman Coeur d'Alene would see GREAT WEATHER, some of the best conditions in years despite a cool 60-degree water temperature for Sunday's swimming event. Sunday afternoon's high was predicted to be in the lower 80s, not bad at all.

The weekends lately have seen rather nice weather when one considers the fact that we've gauged a whopping 13.01 inches of precipitation in Coeur d'Alene since March 1, including 4.63 inches this June, which was second only to the 5.09 inches measured in 1947. The 1.10 inches of moisture on Monday, June 21, the first day of summer, just missed the record precipitation for the date of 1.22 inches in 1984. Other wet Junes since 1895 include 4.62 inches in 1971 and 4.45 inches in 1913. Last June, in 2009, we had 1.75 inches, just below the monthly norm of 1.78 inches.

I should also mention that the 13.01 inches of precipitation that we've measured in Coeur d'Alene since March 1 is still the third highest total for the 116-day period on record.

The same time span in soggy 1997 saw a whopping 13.48 inches of rain gauged in town. Forty years before in 1957, the Lake City measured 13.15 inches. We needed a 'foot' of moisture this spring to avert a "dire" water shortage outlook. We exceeded that requirement by more than a full inch.

As I said before, we saw "pennies from heaven" deposited in Camelot's 'water bank' this spring. We should see 'dollars of sunshine' this expected warm summer of 2010. I'll have more details in next week's July 4 installment of 'Gems.'


Cliff Harris is a climatologist who writes a weekly column for The Press. His opinions are his own. E-mail

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