The latest snowfall in Saskatchewan has been a bane for drivers and pedestrians but has been a boon for agricultural producers who received some much needed moisture.

The snow was brought in by two weather systems, one was a Colorado low, which blanketed much of the province.

Environment Canada Senior Climatologist David Phillips called it a “million dollar storm” which dropped “white gold” for farmers and ranchers.

“It’s pretty important. I mean, with the way it is now, it looks like we’re going to get a little bit of run off possibly, depending on which way the melt goes,” said Terry Anthony who farms southwest of Moose Jaw.

“The snow is not a be-all-end-all, but it’s certainly a help.”

Anthony raises cattle and farms grains and oil seeds. He said 2017 was the driest year he had seen in the area but despite the amount of moisture received in the area, his crop yield was still “fair.”

When the year is as dry as it was in 2017, Anthony said it’s going to have a “devastating effect” on the agriculture sector in the province. He noted any moisture right now, is good moisture.

“We’re always cognizant of prices but if Mother Nature doesn’t cooperate and you don’t grow anything, it doesn’t really matter what it’s worth. You gotta have a product to sell and make a living,” Anthony said.

Snowfall totals

According to preliminary numbers from Environment Canada, more than 40 centimetres of snow accumulated in the Melville area during the snowfall. (Environment Canada)

For Bjorn Bjorndalen, who farms durum, canola and flax near Torquay, his production last year was far from fair. Conditions were “bone dry” and he said his crops dried right out.

“There was really no production at all. It was more or less crop insurance,” Bjorndalen said.

He said the moisture is a welcome addition but is hoping for a bit more snow before the conditions dry up and some rainfall in the summer.

At this time of year, snow is especially important due for seeding purposes, according to one expert.

Drought conditions in Sask. Jan 2018

Regina and area has had a very dry 2017 which is stretching into the new year. (Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada)

“Hopefully, it’ll replenish the top soil moisture that we so desperately need in the south,” said Daphne Cruise, a provincial crop extension specialist. 

Due to the dry stretch in the southern part of Saskatchewan, the top soil moisture was depleted and very dry. Cruise said there are usually two factors of concern when it comes to moisture, the amount of snow that falls and the timing of the fall.

A slow melt would be ideal in the area, she said. In areas where there was heavy snowfall, a runoff from a fast melt could be beneficial to dug outs and sloughs.

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