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How farmers feel about the summer weather predictions for Manitoba

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Warmer-than-average temperatures are expected to blanket Manitoba for most of the summer, and while that may be good news for outdoor enthusiasts in the province, farmers are playing the wait-and-see approach for what it could mean for their crops.

The Weather Network released its annual forecast for the summer on Wednesday, predicting sunshine and warm weather throughout the country.

That warmth will be felt in Manitoba as well.

Environment and Climate Change Canada's newest summer forecast isn't expected until the end of the month, but Natalie Hasell, a warning preparedness meteorologist, agreed with what is currently being predicted.

"Our long-term forecasts do suggest warmer than normal. But remember, these forecasts don't tell us how it's going to be warmer than normal," she said. "Is it going to be really hot for two weeks and then kind of average after that, so the overall average would be above normal? Or is it going to be above normal a little bit every day? Are there just going to be lots of variations? We don't have a tool to tell us that."

For Thorsten Stanze – who farms near Rosenort, Man. – it has been an up-and-down start to the growing season with the dry and mild winter followed by the recent rainfall.

"We actually delayed seeding right now because of the amount of rain we had the last two weeks," said Stanze.

"I think we will still be OK. But if we get another big rain coming now, I think the last three acres, if you have to seed, probably won't go in."

Along with the heat, the Weather Network has also forecasted the potential of some extreme weather.

Hasell said when the weather gets warmer, those storms are always possible.

"Precipitation is a wait-and-see. Expect the variability to continue. The low and high-pressure systems will continue to go across the region and affect us every time they go through," said Hasell.

Stanze is fine with any heat that comes, but extreme weather is worrisome for him, as he has already dealt with hail in the most recent batch of thunderstorms.

"It's the extremes that are really the problem. If you have just hot, or just dry, whatever it might be, it might be more manageable. But the extremes, the variation is the issue."

Jill Verwey, the president of Keystone Agricultural Producers, echoes the concerns shared by Stanze.

"I think if we have moderate warm temperatures, I think we'll be set up for a pretty good season," she said. "I think the worst thing that we could see is that high temperature, up to 40-degree temperatures, where we end up getting some volatile, large accumulations of rain and hail, which will impact the crop later on this summer."

Whatever the summer brings, Stanze knows he has to roll with the punches, saying that's the gamble of farming in the province.

"You can't just take it. It's what farming is all about. It's like a poker game, and see what happens," said Stanze.

- With files from The Canadian Press

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