How can Manitoba care for its lawns when there’s ‘virtually no moisture’? – Winnipeg

It’s only May, but this year is already different for Beth Connery than it has been recently.

The lack of moisture this year is of particular concern to the owner of Connery’s Riverdale Farms near Portage la Prairie, who relies on water pumped from the Assiniboine River for their strawberries, carrots, pumpkins and other produce.

“Really, incredibly low,” says Connery of the river level.

“We looked for rain last fall (and) snow all winter and in some cases had bare fields, and this spring there was no spring runoff. No water in the trenches and really no water in the river. “

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With the farm planting new crops all the time to keep the market running, Connery says the need for water never decreases.

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“Our pumps are right on the river, which helps us, but it’s difficult to ask how long this water supply will be stable for us this year,” says Connery, adding that they may keep the pumps in the river if so conditions do not improve.

The situation is not much better in Winnipeg, where, according to David Hinton, President of Weed Man Winnipeg, “there was next to no moisture”.

Hinton says most of the city’s lawns look pretty thirsty, but if there can be a positive side, he notes that the lack of moisture also keeps weeds at bay for the time being.

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To stay in prime condition, lawns typically require up to an inch and a half of water per week, according to Hinton, which can be measured by putting an empty tuna can outside.

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“Whether you get rain down in the sky or sprinkle it on when the tuna can fills up with water, that should be pretty much all you need for the week,” says Hinton.

Unfortunately, with the exception of an April blizzard, it would be hard to find a can of tuna year round.

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According to Hinton, homeowners can tell when the lawn needs a drink because it leaves silvery footprints as it passes through it.

Due to this year’s drought, however, a few meters have already passed this point and are starting to turn brown.

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To prevent this from happening, he suggests cutting the grass at the highest possible setting, as the height of the plant is proportional to the length of the roots.

“If you cut higher, about three inches, it means your roots are three inches deeper and you don’t have to water as much. These plants can go deeper into the ground, ”says Hinton.

“If you cut the lawn short, like an inch, it means your roots are only an inch deeper and the top of the lawn dries a lot faster.”

The latest drought assessment by the Canadian Drought Monitor shows a region of extreme drought in southern Manitoba that lasted until April, now stretching from Russell to Gimli and Interlake, south to the US border and west to Saskatchewan.

The authors of the assessment point out that almost 93 percent of the agricultural landscape of the prairie region has unusually dry to extreme drought conditions.

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