Ag Weather Forum

Prairie Harvest Rolls Along

Doug Webster
By  Doug Webster , DTN Senior Ag Meteorologist
Lowest temperatures last seven days. (Map courtesy Ag Canada)

Good harvest weather continues to aid farmers with harvest across western Canada as we turn the page into early October. A weather pattern that is likely helped along by El Nino has brought mild and mostly dry weather to the Prairies during the second half of September.

Cold temperatures have been hard to find and some areas even have yet to have a hard freeze. Average first frost and freeze dates have come and gone through most of western Canada. The lack of very chilly weather has to do with the continuation of a westerly jet stream flow across western Canada and the lack of any strong polar high pressure areas moving southeastward from Alaska or northwest Canada.

The lack of the big upper level ridge poking northward along the west coast of North America to date has prevented any serious cold from collecting across northwest Canada. Eventually it will turn colder across northern Canada but the cold air manufacturing machine we saw during the past couple of years may be hard to find this coming winter.

There have been some colder-than-normal temperatures recently across Alaska, but the mechanism to pull this air southward has been lacking with the jet stream acting as a dam. The flatter jet stream flow recently has also diminished the rainfall threat, all of which is good news for harvest.

With the nights growing steadily longer and the sun angle lowering in the sky, it's inevitable that colder temperatures will take hold shortly. However, the overall weather pattern may continue to be one that keeps temperatures on the milder side of normal during October and quite possibly well into the winter. An early peek at today's November forecast is showing well-above-normal temperatures for western Canada.

El Nino can play a major role in the weather of western Canada, especially during the winter and the current El Nino is one of the strongest on record. These warm waters of the tropical Pacific have a rather strong influence on the Prairies, making the down-sloping Chinook winds more dominant during the winter than the biting cold which can drop in from the north. The downside is we may come up short with precipitation making soil moisture lower than average for spring seeding.

In the near term farmers continue to be ahead of schedule with harvest for the most part and some crops are in the final harvest stage or even complete. Mostly good weather is anticipated during the next week and that should allow for harvest to begin to wrap up for more and more locations.

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

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