Ag Weather Forum

Weather Helps W. Canada Harvest, But Changes Ahead

Doug Webster
By  Doug Webster , DTN Senior Ag Meteorologist
Map of the lowest temperatures in the Prairies from Sept. 2 to Sept. 8. (Graphic courtesy of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada)

Harvest progress is ahead of normal through most of Western Canada as we move through the second week of September, thanks to some pretty good harvest weather during the past few weeks. There have been a few slowdowns and halts to harvest, but the periods of good weather have been longer than the periods of delay.

More good news is seen for harvest during the next several days with a period of warm weather and dry conditions expected to last through most of the weekend. The subtropical ridge across the western U.S. is again expected to bubble northward into the southern Prairies and allow for a westerly flow of warm, dry weather.

We may see changes by late in the weekend and early next week as an upper level trough swings in from the Gulf of Alaska pushing a cold front through the region. What remains unclear at this time is whether we see just lower temperatures or see the cooling accompanied by some rain. Not all models are on board with the rainy scenario, but most of them are tuned into the idea of colder weather during the early to mid-week period of next week.

Farmers should be able to make good progress through most of the weekend before we see some slowdowns early next week. If rains do not materialize, then harvest may be able to continue next week, despite lower temperatures.

Frost has visited many areas of the western Prairies, which is pretty close to normal for early September. Areas from southern and central Saskatchewan to southern Manitoba have either escaped the first frost or have seen just a touch of light frost thus far. Normal first frost dates are fast approaching for southern and southeast areas and have already passed for some of the western and northern portions of Alberta to northern Saskatchewan.

Most of the longer-range model products continue to show a pattern of warm subtropical ridge across the central and eastern U.S. as we move into mid and late September with a greater threat of a trough at times through Western Canada into the Pacific Northwest of the U.S. This pattern can throw some periods of wet weather across the Prairies at times which will hamper or halt harvest, but we should also see some sizable periods of good harvest weather.

The upswing in rains during the past several weeks will aid in raising soil moisture levels to adequate levels for winter wheat planting which is underway in some areas, weather permitting. So far we do not see any serious cold or snow on the horizon which may allow harvest and fall planting to move along at near or ahead of normal pace and hopefully to completion before winter really sets in.

With El Nino quite strongly in place across the Pacific Ocean, we would tend to favor the start of the new winter season to be milder and drier than average and if El Nino persists well into the winter we would favor the milder, drier scenario to continue.

Doug Webster can be reached at doug.webster@dtn.com

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