Saskatchewan farm areas may see above-average spring flooding

Mon Mar 11, 2013 12:28pm EDT
 
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(Reuters) - Canada's biggest wheat- and canola-producing province Saskatchewan could see above-average spring flooding across most of its farming areas, the provincial government said on Monday.

Flooding, also called runoff, occurs to some extent every spring as snow melts on the flat Canadian Prairies, where farmers grow most of the country's grains and canola.

Soils in Saskatchewan were generally dry in autumn, prior to freezing weather, but the province saw between 150 percent and 200 percent of normal snowfall in many areas over winter, based on its water equivalent, said Ken Cheveldayoff, the minister responsible for the province's Water Security Agency.

Cheveldayoff said the rate at which snow melts and the level of precipitation in coming weeks will determine the risk of spring flooding.

Nearly all of Saskatchewan's agriculture areas are likely to see above-normal to very high spring flooding, according to the province's forecast. Two large pockets around the provincial capital of Regina and the largest city of Saskatoon are at especially high risk.

Western Canadian farmers generally start planting as early as mid-April or as late as early June, depending on the crops.

In the neighboring province of Manitoba, only minor to moderate flooding is likely, the provincial government said last month.

(Reporting by Rod Nickel in Winnipeg, Manitoba; editing by Sofina Mirza-Reid)