It seems that Western Canada has been getting into weather ruts during the past several months. First, cold weather and snow were unending during the second half of the winter extending well into the spring. Now, after a brief period of pretty decent planting weather during May, we have wandered into a new pattern that features almost daily rainfall. The one ray of sunshine so far has been that seeding operations have been completed for most areas where conditions permit, slightly earlier than the five- and 10-year averages.
The rains are starting to take their toll on the crops in some areas where fields are starting to flood and some farmers are trying to replant if they can. Some areas could see fields go fallow this season if the wet weather pattern continues. The heaviest of the rainfall during the past month or so has been from southern Alberta to much of Saskatchewan, where rainfall has been as high as 200% of normal for this period. Saskatchewan appears to be bearing the brunt of problems where portions of the province have recorded the wettest April and May on record.
Soil conditions have been a little better across Manitoba where rain totals during June are about where they should be to date. This may change during the coming days as a couple of wet weather systems could produce locally heavy rains for the eastern Prairies today and again later in the weekend.
Temperatures from Alberta to Manitoba during the first 19 days of June have averaged fairly consistently from 0.5 to 2.0 degrees C below normal. Temperatures have not been much of an issue thus far, but if we continue with lots of cloudy, wet weather, lower-than-normal temperatures will contribute to slow crop development and disease. Delayed crop development could be a problem later in the season if crops are late to mature, bringing threats of damage from early frosts in the fall.
The cause of the abundant rainfall is a blocking weather pattern across Alaska and through the eastern Pacific. A ridge of high pressure across Alaska combined with a trough of low pressure off the coast of Western Canada and the Pacific Northwest of the U.S. keep sending low pressure areas and moisture into southwest Canada.
Unfortunately, this pattern tends to be stable and slow to change and the outlook for the next week to two weeks keeps periods of wet weather in the forecast. Temperatures during this time are expected to continue to run a little lower than normal. Based on this forecast the outlook for crop development will be less than favorable for the remainder of June into early July for a large portion of the Prairies with the main culprits being excess soil moisture and low temperatures.
Doug Webster can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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