Resources to Address Weather Elements - Frequently Asked Questions

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 What is the soil moisture going to be like at seeding?
Alberta Agriculture produces maps in the fall (November) and spring (May) of stubble soil moisture conditions. The maps display ratings of subsoil moisture conditions. Alberta Agriculture also has weather sites around the province with 24 hour delayed soil moisture and temperature conditions

Is there a way of estimating available soil moisture by appearance and feel ?
Typically this method is used for irrigator’s to determine the soil moisture reservoir, but can help anyone measure the available soil moisture present. After retrieving a soil sample by a soil probe, soil auger or spade one can evaluate the soil for moisture as a percent of available water capacity. After determining the texture of the soil one can work the soil in hands by squeezing a small amount and observe the shape the soil takes, by using the hand moisture test link to classify available soil moisture.

Where can I find information to help when faced with dry environmental conditions?
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada has prepared a site called Drought Watch that was created to provide timely information on the impacts of climatic variability on water supply and agriculture on the prairies, as well as to promote practices that reduce drought vulnerability and improve management during a drought. Drought Management Information that is available on this site includes links to articles in various areas that include crops, livestock, pasture, insects and water.

Table One: Examples of Drought Management Information
CropsSoil Moisture and Temperature Considerations
LivestockUsing Cereals for Feed during a Drought
WaterEmergency Water Supply Options During Drought
PastureRangeland Management During Drought

Other tools available on site include GIS maps that display national and prairie cumulative precipitation on various intervals such as past seven days, and past year. Other maps include temperature maps (monthly), insect maps (yearly), potential forage production (May-Nov. monthly), and on farm water supplies (May-Nov monthly).
There is also links to federal and provincial issues regarding drought.

What is the weather going to be like throughout the growing season?
Environment Canada provides weather information that includes 5-day weather forecasts, as well as seasonal forecasts. The seasonal forecasts display temperature and precipitation maps based on 0-3 months, 3-6 months and 6-9 months.

Are there any tools available for predicting the last spring frosts or the first fall frosts?
There is a Freezing Date Probabilities factsheet that estimates the probale freezing dates for 114 locations in Alberta. By determining the average dates (50% risk level) for the last spring frost and the first fall frost (Freezing Dates for Alberta Locations) and than using the spring or fall curve for estimating freezing date adjustment factors, one adds the freezing date adjustment to the average for the probable date at the specific risk level.

Prepared by Ag - Info Centre, Alberta Agriculture & Forestry
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For more information about the content of this document, contact Harry Brook.
This document is maintained by Brenda McLellan.
This information published to the web on April 16, 2004.
Last Reviewed/Revised on October 4, 2017.