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The no snow effect

The small amount of snow this year has forced the Dalhousie Mountain Snowmobile Club to cancel their memorial rally in Scotsburn twice says Jan MacDonald.
The small amount of snow this year has forced the Dalhousie Mountain Snowmobile Club to cancel their memorial rally in Scotsburn twice says Jan MacDonald. - Adam MacInnis

This time of year in 2015 there was about two and a half feet of snow in Pictou County according to Environment Canada records.

Three years later the relatively mild temperatures combined with little to no snow on the ground would lead the optimistic to believe that spring is just around the corner.

Like most people in Pictou County Jan MacDonald isn’t sad to say she hasn’t had much shovelling to do this winter, but as a member of the Dalhousie Mountain Snowmobile Club, there’s a part of her that wishes there had been at least a little more. They’ve had to postpone their sixth annual Memorial Rally twice already and if things don't change drastically may have to skip it entirely and find some alternative event for this year, she said.

“We may just end up having a breakfast or something,” she said.

They aren’t the only snowmobile club that has had the problem. MacDonald was supposed to take part in another snowmobile fundraiser this weekend in Cape Breton as part of a fundraiser, but it also was cancelled.

“It’s been kind of a depressing year for snowmobilers,” she said, adding that she doesn’t have much hope of things changing before spring. “At this point we wouldn’t have enough frost in the ground for it to stick around. All we can do is hope for next year.”

She said it’s disappointing that they aren’t able to hold their ride, which is one of their major fundraisers, but on the other hand their costs are low this year because they haven’t had the groomer out much on trails.

No snow and agriculture

David Friesen of Friesen’s Farm said that while there has been little snow this year, there’s been lots of rain, so they aren’t too worried about the amount of moisture in the ground heading into spring.

There are some pros and cons from an agricultural standpoint when it comes to the lack of snow.

The one area, Friesen said, that could be impacted negatively is plants like strawberries and garlic which usually benefit from the insulation of the snow.

“If we had known there would be no snow, we would have double mulched,” he said.

But then on the positive side the lack of snow may help kill off pests that damage crops.

“The wire worm is one that will specifically freeze out because of frost,” he said.

Regardless, he isn’t losing too much sleep over it.

“Weather changes come and go. There’s always something good coming out of something bad.”

Did you know?

Spring snow has often been referred to as “poor man’s fertilizer,” because it was believed to help crops. Science appears to back up that folk knowledge. As snow, and rain for that matter, falls from the sky it picks up nitrates which can be beneficial to plants, providing nitrogen. In the dead of winter though when the ground is frozen these nitrates often don’t have a chance to seep into the ground. In spring, however, the ground is soft and the snow allows for a slow release of the nitrates into the ground.

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