Ag Weather Forum
Bryce Anderson DTN Ag Meteorologist and DTN Analyst

Thursday 09/03/15

Wet, Cool Weather May Affect Canada Harvest Progress

The pattern of very warm, mostly dry weather that the Western Canadian region has been under during this week appears to be coming to an end. Showers have begun to develop, while western regions have already begun to turn cooler. These showers have so far been on the light side and mainly confined to the northwest and north areas. So far the lower temperatures have been limited to the west and to only slightly-below-normal on the maximum readings.

However, we already see signs that heavier rain and thunderstorms will move into the region during this coming weekend. These rains are set to hit the central and the east growing areas harder than the west, but most will see at least some rain from this system. Temperatures continue a cooling trend in the west while the east also turns cooler with time. This will likely delay seasonal fieldwork, including harvesting summer crops.

The cooler weather that moves in behind this system is expected to bring a chance of frost to some locations; however, this is not that unusual for the first week of September and should not be a big concern. The chance for a season-ending hard freeze does not appear to be very high, but because of the date and the strength of the surface storm moving across, this will need to be watched for signs that it may become colder.

The global forecast models have been trying to suggest that a ridge may return to the Gulf of Alaska and to the west coast of Canada sometime in the near future. Should this occur the most likely impact of this would be to shut off the influence of the Pacific Ocean on weather systems as they concern the Canadian Prairies. This would mean a greater risk for lower temperatures to occur, but also a higher promise of drier conditions as well. The models are not in good agreement today and there have also been significant changes from yesterday as well so this solution is by no means a given. It is just one aspect of the weather picture that will need to be watched during the coming days.

A colder, drier weather pattern would likely favor mature crops and harvests, but it may be unfavorable for crops not yet mature. This would be especially a concern for any immature canola.


Posted at 4:54PM CDT 09/03/15 by Joel Burgio

Wednesday 09/02/15

August Soil Moisture Changes

A look at soil moisture at the end of the meteorological summer season -- the end of August -- shows a very mixed message. Analysis by NOAA notes that the ranking of soil moisture levels for the end of August has almost the entire central U.S. ranked in either the top half or the top third relative to historical averages. So -- that's a pretty healthy shot of moisture -- right?

August brought some big soil moisture increases to the northwestern Corn Belt and the Southeast, but some major declines elsewhere. (NOAA Graphic)

Well, not so fast on that assumption. (Many of you know where this is going.) Reviewing the change in soil moisture levels during the past full month puts a considerably different spin on the subject.

Over the past five weeks, soil moisture levels declined by around 40 millimeters (close to two inches) in the central and Eastern Corn Belt, the western and Southern Plains, and the Delta and Deep South. There were some big additions because of heavy rain, but they were confined to portions of the northwestern Corn Belt and the Southeast. The overall impact -- a reduction in soil moisture levels during August.

The takeaway message is that comments about dryness in the Midwest during the past few weeks are indeed well-placed. And, with a dry pattern for the south-central and southern U.S. impending over the next week, it's going to remain dry for a while. It's no wonder that harvest has been rolling along in the Delta and is set to migrate into the Midwest as well, starting right after the Farm Progress Show brings down the 2015 curtain.


Twitter @BAndersonDTN


Posted at 9:11AM CDT 09/02/15 by Bryce Anderson

Friday 08/28/15

Dry Late August Has Impact

The final full week of August was a dry one. More than half the mainland U.S. saw a goose egg in the rain gauge. The most visual impact of this dryness was in the Far West, where wildfires and smoke-laden air were featured every day. Dryness damage continues to hammer the western U.S.

Total precipitation for the August 21-27 week was zero in well over half the contiguous U.S. (HPRCC graphic)

Crop country had its issues, too. In the eastern Midwest, precipitation was also almost non-existent. This recent dryness validates the worries voiced when fields were flooded by record-setting rainfall back in June; that, come late summer, crops that had puny, shallow root development because of the ample moisture in the top soil layers would wind up starving at the end with no development and extension into deeper levels. That occurrence showed up; coverage of corn dying prematurely is extensive in the ag media. Even mild weather in states such as Illinois and Indiana has not been enough to ward off the impact of this late-season drought.

It's not just the eastern Midwest with this later development problem, either. A drier trend in the central and western Plains has been sneaking up on crops. Even though most of the production in these areas is done under irrigation, there is still enough cropping done without the benefit of center-pivot assistance that a drier -- and hotter -- trend can make an adverse difference. Another term for non-irrigated crop farming is "dryland" -- and this past week fit that description to a T.

Not all areas suffered during the final go-round of the month. The northwestern Midwest had some moderate to locally-heavy rain, which brought finality in a positive way to the crop season. And, in the Delta and Southeast, corn harvest got into high gear with decent yields. But, at the end of the week, there are still some big questions over just how well harvest 2015 will perform -- even with a robust El Nino in place.

Bryce Anderson can be reached at


Posted at 3:23PM CDT 08/28/15 by Bryce Anderson
Comments (1)
west central Ohio Celina, crop drier up very fast. Early corn ok , late corn terrible
Posted by Unknown at 6:36PM CDT 08/31/15

Thursday 08/27/15

Warm, Dry Weather Supports Harvest for W. Canada

Many crops are being swathed and combined across Western Canada with harvest progress reported to be a little ahead of schedule so far this season. While there have been a few bumps in the road lately due to rain and some wind, the rainfall is mostly welcome, helping to restore some subsoil moisture lost during the early summer drought.

Map of the lowest temperatures in the Prairies from Aug. 19 to Aug. 25 shows some of the areas that received frost last week. (Graphic courtesy of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada)

The weather during the past weekend was chilly for some areas as well. Temperatures fell to near or just a little under the freezing mark across western Saskatchewan and many portions of Alberta, resulting in some brief, spotty frost. There appear to be no ill effects at this point.

Rains fell across many areas very late last week into the early weekend resulting in harvest shutting down for most areas, but since then dry weather and higher temperatures have allowed harvest operations to ramp up once again. The outlook is excellent for harvest during the next week and more with warm, dry conditions and little threat of showers.

Late-maturing and filling crops will benefit from the warm weather during the next week and can take advantage of the soil moisture restoration that has taken place in many areas.

A mid-summer weather pattern is taking over across much of the U.S. and across southern Canada as an expansive subtropical ridge builds across the central and eastern U.S. A trough with cooler weather and showers is not too far away, just off the coast of British Columbia, but should be far enough west to keep most of the Prairies in a warm, dry pattern. A few showers may visit parts of Alberta once in a while during the next week, but these visits should be brief.

Our latest forecast models for September are showing warm, mostly dry weather for the first week or two before a trend to cooler, wetter conditions take hold. This forecast should give harvest operations at least a couple of weeks of great harvest weather.

Doug Webster can be reached at


Posted at 10:16AM CDT 08/27/15 by Doug Webster

Monday 08/24/15

NOAA: El Nino Winter Impact

A special report on El Nino's influence on winter weather conditions was sent out by the Missouri Basin Regional Climate Center -- part of NOAA -- at the end of last week. The report was organized by regional climate center director Doug Kluck.

A stronger southern jet stream and displaced polar jet stream indicate dry conditions for the entire central U.S. this coming winter due to El Nino influence. (NOAA graphic)

The main effects of El Nino in winter across North America are:

1) The polar jet stream tend to stay to the north of the Missouri Basin region--in fact, the polar jet is displaced to a track that runs from far northern Canada southeast to the Great Lakes and the northeastern U.S. With this track, coldest air is usually focused on eastern Canada and the northeastern United States. In contrast, western Canada through the northern and central U.S. are usually warmer than normal for winter.

2) The Pacific jet stream across the southern U.S. continues through the winter season, and is stronger than usual for the season. Wet conditions in winter have a high likelihood over the southern U.S. This includes southern California--which almost everyone is eyeing carefully for some kind of drought relief potential. (NOTE---best moisture chance is in SOUTHERN California. NORTHERN California is not nearly as likely to share in the wet winter scenario.)

3) With the precipitation focused over the southern part of the country, below-normal precipitation (dry winter) is quite likely in the northwestern U.S. and the eastern Midwest.

The special report has this reminder: "Keep in the mind that this (above-normal general pattern) does not mean that cold weather will not happen this winter. Extreme cold weather may be milder and less frequent, however."

As far as snow is concerned--chances are low. "Snowpack can also be impacted by the typical El Nino winter pattern as well. Snowpack in the northern Rockies and Plains can be reduced and heavy snow events may be less frequent," the report says.

Regarding the staying power of this El Nino, the report says,

"El Nino conditions have continued this summer and forecasts indicate that this El Nino will strengthen, peaking as a strong event in late fall or early winter. According to the Climate Prediction Center, there is a greater than 90 percent chance that these conditions will last through the winter and above an 85 percent chance that El Nino will continue into the early spring. Research has shown that strong El Ninos are often followed by La Ninas, so conditions should continue to be monitored closely, especially if the El Nino weakens next spring, as predicted."


Twitter @BAndersonDTN

Posted at 2:11PM CDT 08/24/15 by Bryce Anderson

Friday 08/21/15

New Record Warmth in July

The world July climate report was issued by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) this week -- and the big takeaway is that warming around the earth -- yes, global warming -- continues. There were some relatively cooler areas, but they were small in number compared to the rest of the globe.

(Graphic courtesy of NOAA)

Here are some highlight text comments from the report:

The year-to-date temperature combined across global land and ocean surfaces was 1.53 degrees Fahrenheit (0.85 degrees Celsius) above the 20th century average. This was the highest for January-July in the 1880-2015 record, surpassing the previous record set in 2010 by 0.16 deg F (0.09 deg C).

The year-to-date globally averaged land surface temperature was 2.41 deg F (1.34 deg C) above the 20th century average. This was the highest for January-July in the 1880-2015 record, surpassing the previous record of 2007 by 0.27 deg F (0.15 deg C).

The year-to-date globally averaged sea surface temperature was 1.21 deg F (0.67 deg C) above the 20th century average. This was also the highest for January-July in the 1880-2015 record, surpassing the previous record of 2010 by 0.11 deg F (0.06 deg C). Every major ocean basin observed record warmth in some areas.

The combined average temperature over global land and ocean surfaces for July 2015 was the highest for July in the 136-year period of record, at 0.81 deg C (1.46 deg F) above the 20th century average of 15.8 deg C (60.4 deg F), surpassing the previous record set in 1998 by 0.08 deg C (0.14 deg F). As July is climatologically the warmest month of the year globally, this monthly global temperature of 16.61 deg C (61.86 deg F) was also the highest among all 1627 months in the record that began in January 1880. The July temperature is currently increasing at an average rate of 0.65 deg C (1.17 deg F) per century.

(The previous paragraph is worth noting. Comments about the Earth's warming trend having slowed or stopped since 1998 can be put to rest. -- BA)

The full report is available here:…

Also, the global warming connection to the historic and devastating drought in the Far West was highlighted in a peer-reviewed paper sent out this week. The paper is titled "Contribution of anthropogenic warming to California drought during 2012-2014." It is authored by a team comprising four scientists from Columbia University and one from the University of Idaho.

Here is the abstract summary:

"A suite of climate datasets and multiple representations of atmospheric moisture demand are used to calculate many estimates of the self-calibrated Palmer Drought Severity Index, a proxy for near-surface soil moisture, across California from 1901-2014 at high spatial resolution.

Based on the ensemble of calculations, California drought conditions were record-breaking in 2014, but probably not record-breaking in 2012-2014, contrary to prior findings. Regionally, the 2012-2014 drought was record-breaking in the agriculturally important southern Central Valley and highly populated coastal areas.

Contributions of individual climate variables to recent drought are also examined, including the temperature component associated with anthropogenic warming.

Precipitation is the primary driver of drought variability but anthropogenic warming is estimated to have accounted for 8-27 percent of the observed drought anomaly in 2012-2014 and 5-18 percent in 2014.

Although natural variability dominates, anthropogenic warming has substantially increased the overall likelihood of extreme California droughts."

The lead author of this letter, A. Park Williams of the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University, told the New York Times that the air over California can absorb about 8.5 trillion more gallons of water in a typical year than would have been the case in the cooler atmosphere at the end of the 19th century.


Twitter @BAndersonDTN


Posted at 2:58PM CDT 08/21/15 by Bryce Anderson
Comments (8)
Bryce: Don't believe those numbers. There is good money in global warming today and the alleged scientists are responding with phony data and phony studies. Since global warming pays so well today, you can count on year after year and study after study showing the earth is warming. It's all baloney!
Posted by tom vogel at 8:23PM CDT 08/21/15
Science is so unpatriotic!
Posted by Jay Mcginnis at 6:16AM CDT 08/23/15
This morning as I read this article, I am either dumbfounded or confused. It is 48 degrees. From my DTN weather station, we had zero 90 degree (or more) days in 2014. This Summer we've had only 1, and that was back in June. Normally we get 15 days in the 90's. The 2014 growing season, had GDU accumulation at 95% of normal. As of right now for 2105, GDU's are 99% of our 30 year normal. So my confusion is, why is my part of the corn belt, seeing temps below normal, when the earth over all is warmer. Second, I am confused also that the article states the California drought is the result of global warming. But the atmosphere over California is holding 8 trillion gallons more humidity. Isn't that where rain comes from- atmospheric moisture. And yet the Corn Belt has seen numerous historic rains in the last 5 years or so of 100 year magnitude, 5 to 10 inches from a single event. Then global warming is blamed for the super charged atmosphere holding all the moisture in the form of high humidity. So can anyone else see my confusion in all this, with the same atmospheric conditions causing 180 degree difference in weather events. Oh by the way, this weeks forecast for So Minnesota is temps way below normal. So for those that have surplus global warming could you send seem my way, so our crops can be pushed to the finish. P.S. If we mature our crops to the finish without an early frost, this should be one of our best crops ever. So if that is what global warming is doing for Minnesota corn growing, bring it on.
Posted by MARK & LEA NOWAK at 6:25AM CDT 08/24/15
I'm beginning to think this website is funded by special interest groups
Posted by GWL 61 at 1:24PM CDT 08/24/15
Ah yeah GWL, its called "big ag" and you're part of the group.
Posted by Jay Mcginnis at 1:29PM CDT 08/24/15
Just read that a glacier in Greenland sheded an iceberg the size of Manhattan but I checked my freezer and all the ice cubes there are fine, how can anyone fall for this global warming thing?
Posted by Jay Mcginnis at 3:22PM CDT 08/24/15
And Jay , your part of an idiotic group that thinks you and the world can survive by planting tomatoes in a back yard flower pot.
Posted by GWL 61 at 6:09PM CDT 08/24/15
Not really GWL, why do you think I am not part of that special interest group called "big ag"? Why would I subscribe to DTN if I were not part of "the machine"? Just because I beleive in science and understand the effects of carbon on the atmosphere doesn't put me into your stereotype group. Bryce's article is built on science, proven science that has serious implications for our future. Sadly history will point to an idiotic group but they don't plant tomatoes in back yard flower pots, they deny reality.
Posted by Jay Mcginnis at 9:23PM CDT 08/24/15

Thursday 08/20/15

Rains Affect Prairies Harvest

After a very dry start to the growing season for many Western Canada areas, the rains have come during the past month and allowed soil moisture levels to improve substantially.

Unfortunately, the rains were late for some of the earlier maturing crops and lowered crops yields are likely for these crops. Late maturing crops are likely to fare better with the mid-summer rains allowing for better yields.

Harvest operations continue to build across Western Canada and the focus is shifting from the need for rain to the need for good weather conditions for swathing and combining crops. A couple of recent storm systems brought rain and wind, which lodged and flooded crops, as well as delayed harvest.

Mother Nature is about to throw another early fall type storm system at us Friday and Saturday as low pressure tracks along the U.S./Canadian border region. Moderate to locally heavy rains will likely fall for much of the region and the rain combined with some strong and gusty winds may produce more lodging of crops as well as some flooding.

I used the term "fall type" for the upcoming storm for two reasons: One being the rain and wind pattern associated, but also because of the expected low temperatures to accompany and follow to storm. There may be a few places by early Saturday across Alberta that see some light frost and the same pattern may occur early Sunday for parts of central Saskatchewan.

We are not expecting temperatures to be cold enough to produce any significant damage however. Some spots through northwest Alberta saw some isolated frost early this week, but it is unlikely that any damage occurred.

The cool weather is a result of what has become a very active and early fall looking weather pattern across Canada. The jet stream has strengthened and shifted to far southern areas of the nation and allowed a series of low pressure areas to provide rainfall, as well as bursts of cool air from northwest Canada.

We are moving into the last third of August and cooler weather is to be expected. Given the type of weather pattern currently in place, we might be fearful of an early frost or freeze, but there are signs that the pattern may relax for a time next week and possibly into very early September. This would be good news to prevent early frost and also for the increasing harvest work.

Much warmer, drier weather for next week will help those in full swing harvest mode, as well as late-maturing crops. There are indications that once we get a little bit into September that temperatures may swing back to the chilly side of normal and that could increase frost and freeze threats.

Normal first frost dates will be fast approaching in just two to three weeks for many parts of the Prairies and a cooler-than-normal weather pattern might bring the frost on sooner. This is something to keep an eye on, but for now it appears we should see a good week of harvest weather next week after a bump in the road Friday and Saturday.

Doug Webster can be reached at


Posted at 10:44AM CDT 08/20/15 by Doug Webster

Monday 08/17/15

Rainy September Possible

NOAA's Climate Forecast System (CFS) model did a good job in outlining heavy rain potential for the western Corn Belt during the first half of August. It continues to show that trend for September. The forecast precipitation graphic displayed shows the mean -- or average -- precipitation forecast of the CFS ensemble.

The U.S. forecast model's September rainfall depiction has more wet conditions with potential early harvest issues in the western Midwest. (NOAA graphic)

The mean forecast presentation is a pretty soggy one for the western and northern Corn Belt -- with totals for September of 4 to 4 inches. If that verifies, it's likely going to put the brakes on early harvest efforts, and cause some delays in corn and soybean maturity as well.

This graphic goes in concert with another analysis from NOAA which shows that, during fall when El Nino is in effect, there is a high correlation to above-normal precipitation in once again the western and northern Corn Belt.

On the other hand, this forecast maintains harsh drought conditions in the western U.S., with hardly any -- and I do mean any -- precipitation during September.

Bryce Anderson can be reached at

Follow him on Twitter @BAndersonDTN


Posted at 2:28PM CDT 08/17/15 by Bryce Anderson

Thursday 08/13/15

More Rain, Lower Temperatures Ahead for Western Canada

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.

Percent of 30-day average precipitation for the Prairies that occurred between July 13 to August 11 shows some areas have received more than 200% higher than normal. (Photo courtesy of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.

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


Posted at 11:54AM CDT 08/13/15 by Doug Webster

Wednesday 08/12/15

July Temperatures Helped Crops

As the ag world comes to grips with the much-higher-than-expected production estimates in the USDA August 12 reports, a look back at the environment that crops had during July is useful.

The second straight year of cool July temperatures gave corn a big assist during pollination. (NOAA Graphic)

It's been noted here and elsewhere that July temperatures play a dominant role in determining the welfare of corn during pollination. Following the drought of 2012, a USDA crop weather study concluded that record-hot temperatures in July lopped more than 20 bushels an acre off the national corn yield; by far the biggest hit to production of any element that season. On the other hand, mild temperatures allow corn to go through the reproductive stage with very little stress.

And, that's what happened this year. The entire Midwest and most of the Plains saw July temperatures that were near or below normal. Below-normal readings were not extremely cool--certainly not on the order of 2014's July temperatures, but they were still below average for the month. Precipitation also did well; most top corn-producing states had above-normal rainfall for July.

The analysis of ear counts in this month's report had an impressive statistic as well. Here's the USDA comment:

"The August 1 corn objective yield data indicate the second highest number of ears on record for the combined 10 objective yield States (Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin)."

That statement is another indication of the benefit to corn prospects as a result of the July weather pattern.


Twitter @BAndersonDTN


Posted at 3:46PM CDT 08/12/15 by Bryce Anderson
Comments (3)
Ear count means nothing if you don't get any rain to make the kernels develop. Not everyone got too much rain and supposedly ideal weather conditions for a bumper crop. Minnesota is rated as really good - well, I'm in Minnesota and I'm burning up !!! By the time USDA"s folly in manipulating the numbers comes to light it will be too late for many farmers. They will be broke and gone, but the USDA people will get raises and bonuses. Go Figure !!!!!
Posted by Unknown at 9:14PM CDT 08/12/15
It will be interesting of course to see where we go from here. If the August USDA yield of 168.8 bu/A verifies, it would be another instance where an El Nino crop year results in above-trendline corn yields. Trendline for this year is approximately 167 bu/A--again, the USDA number.
Posted by Bryce Anderson at 7:23AM CDT 08/13/15
With 87 counties in Illinois 53 counties in Indiana in a disaster declaration hard to believe they could have a very high ear count people believe what they want to.
Posted by Unknown at 12:54PM CDT 08/13/15

Monday 08/10/15

Wide Variety in Midwest Rain

We see a wide variance in rainfall totals for the first full week of August relative to normal across the Midwest. Some areas certainly got wet; southwestern Iowa, southeastern Nebraska, northwestern Missouri, southern Illinois, northeastern South Dakota all logged more than three times their normal amounts. There were several other areas sporting near to above-normal totals as well.

Seven-day rainfall in northern Iowa, southern Minnesota and northern through central Illinois was not only less than normal, it was almost zero in some locations. (Midwest Climate Center graphic)

However, a large arc through the north-central and central Midwest missed out on that rain. Almost the entire northern one-third of Iowa, southern Minnesota, southern Wisconsin, and the northeastern half of Illinois had 50 percent of normal precipitation or below. Near-zero was even observed in the upper Mississippi Valley of northeastern Iowa-southwestern Wisconsin. In Ohio, central and northeastern areas had similar deficits. The Red River Valley in North Dakota exhibited those drier trends as well. Also part of the area which missed the rain is extreme northeastern Nebraska and southeastern South Dakota.

There are several points of concern with the missed precipitation. The first is that some areas of the western Corn Belt which had been thought of as being in tip-top shape for the crop year suddenly have things looking less than ideal. The second is that these dry sectors also take in parts of the eastern Corn Belt where the record-breaking spring and early-summer rains fell and caused extensive issues with getting crops planted. Root development was shallow because of the wet ground; now, the quick switch to drier conditions is starving those haphazard root systems.

Over the next week to 10 days, there is not much of a chance for the drier areas to recover, either. Our main expectation is for high pressure in the upper atmosphere to dominate much of the central US. This ridging will limit rainfall in the Midwest; possibly offering some rain for the Dakotas, but very little elsewhere, along with generally near to above normal temperatures. The call is for near to above normal temperatures in the Midwest with near to below-normal rainfall.


Twitter @BAndersonDTN

Posted at 2:29PM CDT 08/10/15 by Bryce Anderson

Thursday 08/06/15

Most of W. Canada Moisture Situation Improves

A very dry beginning to the crop season across the Prairies threw a wrench into what had started as an early season in 2015. Crop seeding started early, but crop development suffered from lack of soil moisture into the first half of July. Many early-seeded crops with promise of a fruitful season suffered slow and delayed development until beneficial rains finally made their way into Western Canada during the second half of July.

(DTN graphic by Scott Kemper)

On the whole, most of the Prairies ended up with near or slightly above normal rainfall for July with Saskatchewan seeing 116% of normal as a provincial average. Manitoba was a little short, but was also a region less involved with the dry scenario that had been taking place during the spring and early summer.

Alberta, while seeing near-normal monthly totals during July, was so short on rain earlier in the season that many areas are still in need of a couple of good soakings to bring soil moisture levels back to manageable levels. Some parts of Alberta have seen just what the doctor ordered during the past 24 to 48 hours with upwards of 2 inches falling in Calgary, although some areas also received hail.

A slow-moving low pressure area across southeast Alberta today will slide only slowly eastward across the southern Prairies during the next 48 hours giving most areas another fairly healthy dose of water between now and Friday night. Even dried-out Alberta may see more moderate to locally heavy showers before low pressure pulls away early Friday.

Seasonal precipitation has increased dramatically across Saskatchewan and Manitoba during the recent two-week period. The accompanying chart now shows a majority of green from west-central Saskatchewan eastward to Manitoba where just a couple of weeks ago large areas of red were being shown. The green tells us that for the season rainfall has now reached normal or even a little above-normal levels for some.

Alberta still is running short, but rains with the current storm system will bring help to at least central and southeast Alberta and some improvement should be expected for some of the orange and red areas by this weekend.

Most crops across the region have showed renewed vigor with the recent rains and developing and maturing crops have a better outlook for this season. Some harvest and swathing has begun for some of the spring cereal crops and the rain may hamper some of those harvest efforts, but most everyone will still welcome the rains. For those beginning harvest there will be some good harvest weather arriving later this weekend into early next week.

The outlook for Western Canada during the remainder of August remains good with a few episodes of rain expected from time-to-time and a temperature pattern favorable for maturing crops. There should also be enough sunny, dry weather to help developing harvest activity to proceed without major delay. 2015 is looking a little like a few of the past few seasons when early season problems brought fears of diminished yields, but in the end all turned out pretty good.

Doug Webster can be reached at


Posted at 10:40AM CDT 08/06/15 by Doug Webster

Wednesday 08/05/15

Dryness Forming in ECB

Call it typical summer if you wish -- but the past two weeks have definitely been drier in much of the continental U.S. As the highlight graphic shows, there are very few areas in the country that have seen above-normal rainfall since mid-July.

Past 14-day rainfall totals show less than ten percent of normal across the eastern Corn Belt, along with much of Texas, the Delta and Deep South. (NOAA graphic)

This is starting to make producers nervous -- especially in the Eastern Corn Belt locations that got the prodigious rainfall earlier in the season, specifically in June. Those previously-soggy areas are now dry enough that some big cracks in the ground are reported. One central Illinois grower commented to me that it's "been just shy of a month since (the) last good rain... like more than a couple drops."

The rainfall deficit is striking. East of the Mississippi River, and north of the Ohio River -- basically defining the eastern Midwest -- less than ten percent of normal rainfall has fallen in the past 14 days. So now it's too dry after too much water in June -- a bad combination, verifying the worst fears of producers. Crops had shallow roots caused by wet soils; now, with the drier trend, those roots don't have moisture to work with. In the words of an old country music song -- if it weren't for bad luck, there'd be no luck at all.

The biggest impact of this recent dryness is on soybeans, which as anyone who's followed ag weather fortunes this season knows, have had all sorts of weather delays. And now, just as the crop is going into its prime-time reproductive phase, here comes the dryness. But, corn is not completely home free, either, because later-planted corn has uneven growth and development caused by the heavy rains. DTN Markets Editor Katie Micik described her trip across northern Missouri into central Illinois this past weekend this way: "You could see the issues related to a wet spring in IL -- corn of varying heights, yellowing, etc. It's far from dead, however. There were some bean fields planted really, really late, but others looked pretty healthy. In summary -- it looks like it's all over the board."

As far as the forecast is concerned -- the next week offers very little meaningful amounts for most of the eastern Midwest. And, as far as temperatures are concerned -- they won't be hot in this area, but they will be warm. Our forecast has mid-80s Fahrenheit for highs in the eastern Midwest through all of next week -- nothing warmer than that. Still, even the upper 80s F along with a dry pattern would not be good for eastern Midwest crops right now.


Twitter @BAndersonDTN


Posted at 2:24PM CDT 08/05/15 by Bryce Anderson

Sunday 08/02/15

Wet Harvest Possible With El Nino

OMAHA (DTN) -- Wide swings in precipitation during the upcoming fall and winter due to El Nino have weather agency forecasters cautious about the impact on harvest conditions, river flow and fire potential in the upper Missouri River basin. The region extends from Montana to Minnesota and from North Dakota to Nebraska.

Above-normal precipitation during El Nino years may bring a wet harvest season to the Western Corn Belt. (NOAA graphic)

El Nino is the term used to describe the warming of the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean that takes place every few years. This warming alters the weather pattern of the tropics, and can extend its influence over many other areas of the world, including the U.S. Recent temperature readings place the eastern Pacific temperatures at 3 degrees Celsius above average, which is well above the average reading. This warming extends to a depth of approximately 300 meters. Thus, a huge pool of water has the anomalous warmth. This warmer-ocean regime is expected to remain in place for the balance of the year.

"Forecasts have El Nino in effect through the winter into spring," said Dennis Todey, South Dakota state climatologist. "The likelihood is 90% or above for this -- certainly through this winter."

The extent of warming in the current El Nino may rival some of the strongest such events in recorded history. "El Nino was strong in 1982-83, and in 1997-98. The readings for those events certainly compare to this one," Todey said.

The impact of El Nino-adjusted weather patterns on the U.S. is not guaranteed. "Every El Nino is different," observed Doug Kluck, regional director of the Missouri River basin climate office in Kansas City. Still, there are some large trends which command respect.

One of those features is the prospect for a wet harvest. "September to November precipitation tends to be above normal; it's wetter in the fall," said Todey. "That can certainly mean harvest delays if it turns very wet." Todey also cited possible issues with winter wheat planting due to wet fields. In recent history, El Nino conditions were in place during the fall 2009 season, when harvest season was very slow to proceed; in some fields, harvest did not get finished until the following spring.

Looking to winter, the situation changes from too wet to potentially too dry. "Northern states have much less snow during El Nino winters," Todey noted. This drier trend combines with a forecast for above-normal temperatures to produce a higher range fire risk. "The fire situation is complicated. A more-open winter with less snow cover, along with the warmer temperatures, leads to a higher potential," Todey said. Fire threats in the region are highest in Montana and Wyoming, where the winter season is forecast to bring above-normal temperatures to these states.

In addition to the warm Pacific tropical waters, a large area of the Pacific Ocean off the west coast of North America -- nicknamed "The Blob" -- is also commanding forecasters' attention for its potential to affect fall and winter weather. "The question really is what impact that Pacific blob will have," said Mark Svoboda of the National Drought Mitigation Center in Lincoln, Nebraska. "There is no analog to the state of the oceans right now. There is a lot of warm pool inertia."

Bryce Anderson can be reached at

Follow him on Twitter @BAndersonDTN


Posted at 7:33PM CDT 08/02/15 by Bryce Anderson
Comments (1)
El Nino continues to intensify. Eastern Pacific temperatures logged by my colleague Mike Palmerino came in at 2.7 degrees Celsius above normal for July. Those departures were +2.7C in June. Mike's records go back to 1949. In that time, the only other year that had a July departure warmer than this was the great El Nino of 1997-1998. The departure in July 1997 was +3.3C.
Posted by Bryce Anderson at 10:08AM CDT 08/03/15

Thursday 07/30/15

Beneficial Rains Fall on Many Parts of the Prairies

A weather pattern change across western Canada during the past couple of weeks has brought much needed rainfall to many areas. Western and northwestern Alberta has missed out on the major portion of the rainfall but even here some shower activity has been helpful.

During July a large portion of southern Alberta, much of Saskatchewan and Manitoba have seen a major rebound in rainfall with the accompanying chart showing blue colors across areas that were red just a couple of weeks ago. The blue colors indicate more than 150 percent of normal rainfall for the 30 day period with dark blue areas more than twice the normal rain for the given period.

The timely rainfall has boosted soil moisture levels to much more acceptable levels in many areas and likely will save many crops from withering away this summer as well as improving the outlook for crop harvest. The most recent rainstorm brought from 1 to 3 inches (25-76 mm) of rain to much of southeastern Saskatchewan and southern Manitoba with some flooding even being a problem for a few spots.

The upswing in rainfall during the past few weeks has not been entirely without some problems with reports of strong winds, hail, spotty flooding, and lodging of crops coming in. More rain is also needed for central and western Alberta to bring crop development back to acceptable levels for mid summer.

The outlook for the coming week shows a drier weather pattern coming back as the subtropical ridge across the south-central U.S. shifts back into the interior U.S. West and pokes northward into southwest Canada. This process will push the storm track that has recently brought beneficial rains to the Prairies northward and allow for warming temperatures. Overall this is not a problem for most areas as some warmth and sunshine after a good watering is favorable for crop growth.

Further down the road some of the forecast models imply that new energy from the Pacific could bring a return of showery conditions during the second week of August. This could be good timing after a week of drier weather and hopefully Alberta might see more rain this time around. Model products for the month of August continue to paint near to above normal rainfall and seasonable temperatures across the Prairies which should help maturing and filling crops.

Doug Webster can be reached at


Posted at 10:33AM CDT 07/30/15 by Doug Webster
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