Despite slow commutes and other winter frustrations, the 10 to 30 cm snowfall at the beginning of the month could contribute to a better growing season for local farmers and greenhouses.
“This is going to set our crops ahead, just by having the moisture in the earth,” said Colleen McGillivray, of Cherry Lane Greenhouse and Gifts.
“We don’t have an unlimited amount of water,” said McGillivray, who uses a dugout to water her plants. At one point during the summer, she said the dugout was completely dry because of the lack of rain.
McGillivray said one rain in the growing season is not enough. “When you have no moisture in the fall, and you don’t have any moisture in the spring, you really rely on good rain.”
“Especially when we have people from the city, they use tap water [to water their plants] and I don’t know if they realize how much we rely on rain,” said McGillivray.
Central Saskatchewan farmer, Brad Hanmer, said although the snow adds a better opportunity for crops, during this time of year, it’s difficult to tell whether farmers have made or lost their crops.
“It takes a certain amount of water to germinate, and what the snow will do is create a little more opportunity for that crop to get started,” said Hanmer.
Hanmer said one of the biggest limitations of crop production is whether there is enough moisture. “Last year we didn’t have sufficient moisture to maximize crop yield and, in some cases, there was so little that it was a devastating crop.”
“Saskatchewan is huge: Swift Current is different than Regina, which is different than Yorkton, which is different than Saskatoon,” said Hanmer. “Depending on where you’re located, some guys had fantastic crops, some didn’t.”
For the Regina area in July 2017, Environment Canada recorded a total rainfall of 1.8 mm, one of the lowest recorded rainfalls in the history of Saskatchewan.
“It was a wonderful summer, but you still need moisture to keep your grass alive and make things look nice,” said Colleen McGillivray.
“We call it a million-dollar snow right now. It’s for the farmers, the crops, they need that moisture to get started,” said McGillivray. “We’ve needed this, even just this one snow was magic.”
“It’s kind of a gentle area here right, we can never get either too much or not enough,” said McGillivray. “We’re always one of those provinces that thinks ‘Oh, I wish we had this and I wish we had that,’ but we have usually a great heat, we have the world’s best earth, so if we get the perfect moisture we can have bumper crops and everybody would be happy.”
“Weather’s always on the move, weather’s always changing,” said Hanmer. “That’s part of why farming can be a tough business.”
“You can’t run it like a normal business, because the biggest factor out of your control is the weather,” said Hanmer. “That’s the game of farming.”
Hanmer says when the snow does melt, it would be ideal for the snow to melt more slowly. “A slower more methodical melt is always better for crop production because it has a tendency to soak in nice and slow.”