Many crops across Western Canada are maturing at this time with harvest ramping up in some areas. Dry weather during the critical development stage for many crops earlier this summer will bring down yields this year despite a return rain and improved soil moisture conditions during the second half of July and August.
The accompanying chart shows how impressive rainfall has been during the past 30 days across many portions of the Prairies, but for some crops it has been too late to bring an impressive yield this year. Green and blue areas shown have seen above-normal rains, with the dark blue regions seeing more than 200% of normal rainfall since mid-July.
Alberta remains the one province still with many areas short on rainfall and with crops suffering the most. As August reaches its midpoint, we see harvest and swathing operations increasing across Western Canada. Those operations need dry weather.
Hot and mostly dry weather of the past few days brought more stress to the dry western cropland but helped push central and eastern area crops closer to maturity. We will see an end to the hot weather by this weekend, as low pressure crosses the southern Prairies and brings a healthy dose of rain and a marked turn to cooler weather on its heels. Some hint of early fall will be felt by some during the weekend.
For farmers starting harvest, the rain will halt fieldwork for a couple of days and the threat of more lodging is also there. Thereafter, several days of dry weather are expected once cooler weather sets in.
The mid- and late-August weather pattern forecasts imply Western Canada may see further spurts of rain along with some cooling weather at times, as a mean trough appears settles in for a while. Though early, one can't rule out some increasing threat of a light frost later in the month if the mean trough hangs around through month's end.
For those wondering if fall will come early this year, the early take on September is for above-normal temperatures along with near-normal rainfall. The above-normal temperature forecast does not rule out a brief surge of cool weather though. One only has to go back to last September when record snow and cold weather fell onto parts of the Prairies for a brief time despite a month that was mostly milder than normal.
Doug Webster can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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