Welcome rain for some farmers, too much for others

Over the past week to 10 days, at least in the Yorkton region, we have received what my grandfather would have termed a million-dollar rain.

For grain producers, conditions coming out of spring seeding were generally on the dry side of things. Locally the situation was probably not critical, but there were certainly areas that needed moisture badly.

article continues below

While the rain here covered a rather significant area, I was travelling to Brandon and back June 15 and the windshield wipers were in use every mile both ways, there are, of course, areas still in need. Such is the reality in a grain growing region the size of the Canadian Prairies.

The rains locally have come down almost perfectly for crops, rain falling slowly enough that it is able to soak in for crops to use.

But, photos recently posted to social media showed the rain which recently hit Swift Current came down in buckets, which, of course, causes localized flooding in urban centres where concrete and asphalt mean water has nowhere to go but to pool.

In rural areas rain can also run off fields, causing erosion, flooding crops, and causing damage.

Again, locally in the Yorkton area we are aware of the impact of heavy rain events, being hit hard in 2010 and 2014.

The damage in the city has seen the municipalities invest millions in the last few years on projects hoped to mitigate heavy rain events moving forward.

The situation here is not unique as many communities and regions have been flooded in recent years, from lake resorts along the Qu’Appelle Valley, to the extensive issues around the Quill Lakes.

This situation may become more the norm, unfortunately.

A University of Saskatchewan study shows an increase in the frequency of heavy rain events in North America.

The research, in affiliation with the university’s Global Institute for Water Security, looked at weather data from around the world from 1964 to 2013.

Using a model to look at the situation over the years, the study suggests there have been 8.4 per cent more heavy rain events in North America in the last 10 years of the study compared to minus six percent in the first 10 years, according to a recent Western Producer story.

That should be a disturbing trend for producers.

On the Canadian Prairies producers rely on timely rains to grow a crop in a region that would be an arid one if not for the long months of winter. Should rains become more torrential in nature on a more regular basis, the situation will not be good for food production.

With that in mind greater research is clearly needed, and more awareness of what might be developing in terms of weather patterns.