Ag Weather Forum
Bryce Anderson DTN Ag Meteorologist and DTN Analyst

Friday 09/19/14

Climate Change Echo In Farm Policy

The featured item in the DTN Washington Insider posting from Monday September 15, 2014 is worth re-posting in this blog space. This item deals with a real rubber-hits-the-road issue when it comes to climate change, crop production and farm policy. At issue is whether producers being allowed to drop a bad year from their production histories should be allowed in crop insurance programs.--Bryce

Twitter @BAndersonDTN

Washington Insider: Doing Something About the Weather

Part of the support for the crop insurance safety nets now being offered depends on the idea that the premiums are science-based, with their cost based on coverage and actual histories. Now, however, the recent farm bill seems to have changed that to some degree.

Under normal crop insurance rules, producers' crop histories reflect both high and low yields, and the amount of coverage that can be purchased is smaller for those that tend to have poorer crops. However, the new farm Act has a provision that can give drought-damaged crops in any state a break by erasing the record of some bad yields.

Affected producers say they need this relief and will have trouble staying in business without it –– that they cannot get lenders to finance them for another year without expanded protection beyond what they could normally obtain.

However, critics argue that the "exclusionary" provision masks weather developments, especially the effects of climate change and could discourage producers from taking steps to prepare for future droughts, such as diversifying crops.

"We're allowing the individuals to take higher risk than they normally would and that puts our nation at a higher risk," Tim Gieseke, president of Ag Resource Strategies LLC, a Minnesota-based business that manages environmental quality plans for businesses, government agencies and private organizations told the press.

Professor Bruce Babcock of Iowa State University was even tougher. He thinks the new farm Act is moving "closer and closer to being a social welfare program and this is one manifestation of that." he said. "It's really trying to protect farmers from the realities of climate change, protect them financially... But it sure doesn't protect taxpayers."

Farmers' actual, record-based crop yields provide a basis for both the level of coverage they can buy as well as the premiums they have to pay. Taxpayers subsidize about 62% of the premiums. A farmer's yields are averaged over 10 years to come up with actual production histories, or APH. The lower the APH, the less coverage a farmer can buy.

The farm Act provision will allow growers to eliminate bad yields from APH calculations anytime the overall yields in the counties where they farm are at least 50% below average.

The exclusionary provision also will apply to neighboring counties, which means that a broad swatch of the southern Plains will benefit, along with many other areas of the country. The Congressional Budget Office estimated the provision would cost taxpayers $357 million over 10 years.

Farmers also say they are frustrated because USDA has yet to implement the provision. Despite pressure from House Agriculture Chairman Frank Lucas, an Oklahoma Republican who got the provision in the bill, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says USDA doesn't have the resources to get it implemented for another year because of the work entailed in developing other new programs established by the farm bill.

Southern Plains producers say they need help quickly. In 2011, there were more than 100 days in Texas and Oklahoma where the temperature exceeded 100 degrees and climate forecasts call for more frequent droughts across Texas and the Southern Plains in the future. The national climate assessment issued earlier this year warned that the droughts will deplete underground water supplies, forcing many farmers to stop irrigating crops and eventually reducing crop yields by a factor of two.

Because the risk of bad weather differs among regions, the value of crop insurance varies as well –– and, rules that allow poor yields to be excluded from APH calculations are expected to have differential consequences. As a result, Corn Belt economists are among those questioning the new rule most intensely, especially on the grounds that it raises questions of actuarial soundness of the system as a whole.

At a recent congressional hearing, a number of economists told the committee that questions regarding the integrity of the insurance program are not "inconsequential" considering how many producers rely on insurance. At the very least, they say, USDA must adjust the premiums paid by producers making this election to reflect the increased risks associated with the change.

One of the assertions often made by supporters of crop insurance programs is that, although many of the programs are heavily subsidized, at least those are transparent. However, the exclusionary rule threatens that assertion and likely will face serious future challenges including detailed studies of the rules' effects experts now say are underway. It will be important for producers to watch this process very carefully because it is fundamentally important to their main safety net program, Washington Insider believes.


Posted at 2:38PM CDT 09/19/14 by Bryce Anderson

Thursday 09/18/14

Mild, Dry Weather Improves W. Canada Harvest Conditions

The snow, wind, and low temperatures of last week certainly put a damper on this year's crop and harvest across Western Canada. The wet, cold conditions certainly raised concern about loss in crop quality across much of the region. Frost and freezing weather were more common across Alberta and Saskatchewan where some damage occurred to immature crops. Manitoba also received some crop damage, but frosts were of short duration and were not as widespread as areas further to the west.

Hopefully much of the bad news for this year's crop is behind us as we now move into a much more favorable weather pattern for late-maturing crops and a resumption of swathing and harvest. The dreaded trough that took its toll on Western Canada has found its way into eastern Canada and most signs point to a developing ridge for Western Canada during most of the next week to 10 days.

This ridge should steer most of any significant storms well to our north and allow for a much warmer weather pattern. Temperatures should average above normal, if not well-above normal at times, through the end of next week. This is good news for late-maturing crops. With a mostly dry weather pattern expected areas that have been too wet for harvest should dry out enough to allow for machinery to get out into the fields.

The turnaround in the weather pattern may be partly due to the developing weak El Nino across the tropical waters of the Pacific. During recent weeks, sea surface temperatures across the equatorial Pacific have warmed to levels high enough to alert us that an El Nino is getting started.

During a typical El Nino, Western Canada tends to see milder-than-normal temperatures and less-than-normal precipitation. The wet weather through the U.S. Southwest into Texas also fits in with El Nino conditions.

Hopefully the warmer, drier weather pattern sticks around long enough so that producers can complete harvest activities during the next two or three weeks. Model products that extend outward into October continue to imply a mild, dry weather pattern for Western Canada into the first half of the month. This does not mean we will not see a brief episode of showers and cooler weather once in a while but the overall pattern should average out to be mild and dry.

Once we reach the second half of October it may become a little more difficult to fend off some colder weather and snow/rain activity as the location of the jet stream normally starts to shift southward whether we have and El Nino or not. Hopefully farmers can make good use of the next two or three weeks and complete most of this seasons' harvest.

Doug Webster can be reached at


Posted at 11:01AM CDT 09/18/14 by Doug Webster
Comments (1)
There is certainly a slow start to harvest in the Prairies. The Saskatchewan ag department reports that 23 percent of the crop was reported as harvested as of September 15, which is behind every year of the last five except 2010, where only 14 percent was harvested as of September 13.
Posted by Bryce Anderson at 5:34AM CDT 09/19/14

Wednesday 09/17/14

Southwest Rains And El Nino

We start this entry out with a cliche--"When it rains, it pours." That old saw is never truer than we are seeing this week, with the pounding, flooding rain associated with Hurricane/Tropical Storm Odile in the Baja, California peninsula and now moving into Arizona and New Mexico. Some of this rain also appears on track to move into the Southern Plains and give some dry areas of Oklahoma and Texas a welcome dose of soil moisture for winter wheat along with fall pastures.

It's interesting to note that this is a conveyor-belt of storms for that far southwestern region. We have heard much about Odile-related rain--but remember, it's only a week or so ago that Phoeniz, AZ was swamped by record rainfall from Hurricane Norbert, also in the eastern Pacific. Norbert did not track as far inland as Odile did, but it still was a big moisture producer. The Midwest got in on that act, too. Rains hindered activity at the Husker Harvest Days farm show in central Nebraska (I know)--and we saw from three to nine inches of rain move across the western and central Corn Belt during the September 8-10 period.

So--Norbert, now Odile, and possibly another tropical system in the same area of the western Mexico coast, to be named Polo--are part of this early-fall weather time frame. It's something that is quite rare--in fact, the last time we had such a grouping of tropical systems on the western Mexico coast area was in the fall of 1976, 38 years ago.

There's another interesting facet to that rundown. In the fall of 1976 and through the winter of 1977, a weak El Nino was in place, according to NOAA criteria. And, as of Wednesday September 17, both the Pacific sea surface temperatures and the Australia SOI pressure readings were in--you guessed it--weak El Nino categories.

Official weather agencies have been repeatedly discussing the potential for El Nino to re-form this fall, after making a brief appearance in early summer. It looks like that is happening--which, among other features, tends to support the idea that the fall season could have above-normal precipitation as a feature. And, if that verifies, it would of course complicate harvest progress.


Twitter @BAndersonDTN


Posted at 3:57PM CDT 09/17/14 by Bryce Anderson

Tuesday 09/16/14

Chilly Weekend Summary

Cold temperatures during the Sept 12-13 weekend got a lot of attention. As it turned out, the event was not quite as intense as forecast models had indicated the week before, but it nonetheless got quite chilly. The following paragraph is a description of the temperature pattern across the U.S. last week as compiled by Informa Economics:

Temperatures began the week above normal in much of the country. However, by mid and late week below normal cold advanced into the country via the northwest and north plains. As a result the Southwest and much of the West Coast remained above normal as was the situation in eastern Texas across the South and up the Seaboard to the mid-Atlantic region. Elsewhere colder than normal conditions developed. With the cold came temperatures into the upper 20’s and low 30’s for lows Friday through Sunday mornings. The area affected included northeast Iowa and central Minnesota, central portions of Nebraska, northwest Kansas through western Nebraska into western and northern South Dakota, North Dakota as well as Wyoming and Montana. The duration of cold ranged from just less than one hour to three hours. Crop damage is thought to be minimal. Heat remained problematic in the Far West.

Now, here's more on the incursion of the cold into Iowa. While damage was likely scattered, the cold was historic. This summary is from Iowa state ag department climatologist Harry Hillaker:

Frost was scattered across much of the state on Saturday (13th) morning with official temperatures dipping to 31 degrees at Elkader, Estherville, Mason City, Sheldon, Sioux Center, Stanley and Webster City. These were the lowest temperatures recorded in Iowa for so early in the season since a 29 degree reading near Elkader on September 10, 1976...Overall, temperatures for the week averaged 9.0 degrees (F) below normal.


Twitter @BAndersonDTN

Posted at 1:05PM CDT 09/16/14 by Bryce Anderson

Thursday 09/11/14

Snow and Cold Arrive Early This Season in Canada's Prairies

Harvest has been either shut down or slowed significantly across the Canadian Prairies during recent days as an early preview of winter-like weather has come into the region. Crop damage assessment will be needed for many areas as frosts, freezing weather and snow across Alberta during recent days may cut into this season's crop yield.

Crops such as this wheat one in Alberta, Canada fought to survive against several inches of snow and freezing weather this week. Farmers will need to assess how much damage they received from the early wintry blast in Western Canada. (DTN photo by Cliff Jamieson)

Across Saskatchewan and Manitoba, Friday morning's low temperatures look to be the major threat as enough wind and clouds during the past two nights have prevented frost and freeze conditions. Tonight, clear skies and light winds may result in lower temperatures and potentially damage late-maturing crops.

Snow has been a big story across Alberta this week. Calgary's total of 28.2 centimeters (11.1 inches) during the past three days included a record daily total of 11.8 cm on Monday. Snow across Alberta at this time of year is not unheard of, but is probably best termed as uncommon. The record total of 11.8 cm Monday recorded at Calgary's airport only beat the old record by 0.1 cm set back in 1921. (Some areas of Calgary got even more snow: Environment Canada reported by 8 p.m. that night the northwest part of the city had received 20 cm.)

Numerous pictures of snow-covered roads and trees have been posted all over the internet during recent days surrounding and including the Calgary area. Crops have been under the gun for survival, while humans dealt with difficult travel and power outage problems.

After winter's slap in the face this week, a much more agreeable weather pattern will take shape this coming weekend and well into, if not through, next week. The unseasonably strong trough that has made its way southeastward across Western Canada will find a home across eastern Canada by later this weekend into next week, being replaced by an upper level ridge of high pressure.

The good news is that much milder weather and dry conditions will return to the Prairies during the coming days and likely last well into next week. These improved conditions will allow for damage assessment and a resumption of harvest for many areas. Harvest has been slow during the past two weeks because of wet weather with recent reports of harvest progress being only about 50% of what it was at this time last year.

The late summer/early fall wet weather has also slowed the seeding of winter wheat in many areas. Many of the model products we use to forecast as long as a few weeks ahead point to an improved weather pattern for harvest and seeding of fall cereals during the remainder of September.

Doug Webster can be reached at


Posted at 11:34AM CDT 09/11/14 by Doug Webster
Comments (1)
Minus 2 degrees north of Saskatoon this morning. First frost of the year. Some late canola and wheat that may show some damage.
Posted by Bruce Neufeldt at 8:06AM CDT 09/12/14

Saturday 09/06/14

Notable Early Frost Threat Building

The U.S. GFS forecast model has been consistent over the past several presentations in calling for freezing temperatures during the Friday Sept 12-Saturday Sept 13 weekend, and continues to do so as of Saturday morning Sept 6.

Temperatures of 32 Fahrenheit (0 degrees Celsius) are indicated by the Saturday GFS model run for portions of eastern South Dakota along with a swath of northern through south-central Minnesota on Friday morning Sept 12. During the overnight hours into 1 a.m. Saturday Sept 13, that 32-degree area moves eastward to take in much of the eastern half of Minnesota, the western half of Wisconsin, and the northeastern quarter of Iowa. Then, by 7 A.M. Central time Saturday the 13th--that 32-degree F area extends farther south to cover the entire eastern half of Iowa along with northwestern Illinois.

There is a good portion of the western and northern Corn Belt in line for an early and premature end to the growing season with this presentation.


Twitter @BAndersonDTN


Posted at 8:09AM CDT 09/06/14 by Bryce Anderson
Comments (17)
I am sure that wont be traded like the giant crop talk
Posted by andrew mohlman at 8:10AM CDT 09/08/14
Early frost has happened before. I suppose we are due for one, been many years since it has happened. Won't have ideal conditions year after year. Could get early snow too, with many acres left in field.
Posted by GWL 61 at 9:17AM CDT 09/08/14
Ideal conditions do not occur earth is not a green house. market manipulates farmers to sell to cheap watch them ignore it till it meets there greedy needs.This crop was called huge before it was in ground. biggest ripoff in history of farmers.Those calling for a 2 in front of corn are economic terrorist hopefully it comes back to them.
Posted by andrew mohlman at 8:49AM CDT 09/09/14
Every thing is bearish right now until the right people own it
Posted by Lori Olson at 7:30PM CDT 09/09/14
It sounds like there is some sour grapes for those that missed marketing this big crop at profitable prices. The reason I love DTN is for the vast amount of information available to make our management decisions. Most of the weather outlook folks going all the way back to last January predicted a good growing season with no one seeing drought or heat. They were 100% correct. An above average crop was then advised. So I sold using futures, HTA's and put options locking in $5 corn and $12+ soybeans on all of my production plus a bunch of 2015 as well. So once I deliver , I don't care who owns it. I know some marketing services that told farmers not to sell as the market was wrong. They are the ones that should be discredited; not the market for doing it's job. The economic law of supply and demand will never be repealed.
Posted by MARK & LEA NOWAK at 8:19AM CDT 09/10/14
Sorry a total year of production corn $ 7.25 beans $ 13.00 looks a lot better to me part of problem of unstable market. Prices can explode up just as hard as down on no one is 100% correct
Posted by andrew mohlman at 11:04AM CDT 09/10/14
Depends too on location and the basis, the slow rail service is going to be killer around here. Wheat on ground elevators full. No good at all. Oil boom in ND taking up trains, that's where there money is.
Posted by GWL 61 at 1:26PM CDT 09/10/14
I just edited a blog comment that included some harsh comment about an individual and about my company. We can disagree without calling names or impugning others. If you have an issue with that, you may e-mail me directly at
Posted by Bryce Anderson at 3:18PM CDT 09/10/14
I do have a problem with you changing content of comment All opinions need heard not censored you have Issues when You dont like what you read.Put it back or take it off not hiding in email lot of harsh things in world comment was not that bad. $7.25 $13. lows would be best for all consumption is high waste will happen
Posted by andrew mohlman at 9:52PM CDT 09/10/14
Back on topic--a freeze warning is in effect for the western half of North Dakota for Friday morning September 12.
Posted by Bryce Anderson at 6:24AM CDT 09/11/14
Here in S.C Minnesota near the Iowa border it's 45 degrees for a morning low. The local forecast for the coolest morning is Saturday in the mid 30's. So I suspect there will be some low land patchy frost. If so our crops will be spared a damaging freeze. We will stay in touch and report as it happens.
Posted by MARK & LEA NOWAK at 9:33AM CDT 09/11/14
Economic law....abnormal returns return to normal. In the long run, it doesn't have anything to do with manipulation or some dreamt up scheme and device. Markets have gone up on shortages and down on over-production for as long as human beings have produced and traded with one another. Simple supply and demand. Those fortunate enough to not get glassy eyed when corn was 7, realizing the risk was there for overproduction VS. THE CURRENT DEMAND STRUCTURE sold it, and are still profiting. BTW, there never was a time when the 2014-15 corn crop could have been sold for 7.
Posted by Brandon Butler at 11:45AM CDT 09/11/14
I live in west central Wis & just seen the weekend weather forecast & it doesn't look good If it clears off friday nite. Could be a possible freeze. It is snowing in S Dakota & Nebraska rite now.
Posted by KEITH PEARSON at 12:25PM CDT 09/11/14
Wish it was that simple brandon we are being preyed on by capitalist.Actual carryover is not as great as the price reduction. Farmers all ran to the door to sell or other options that tied them down at least I have some eye sight not a sack over my head freeze would shut us all up
Posted by andrew mohlman at 9:08AM CDT 09/12/14
Blame others if it works for you. (At the base of it, I doubt it is working for you, but keep repeating the same things, expecting different results!) While you are at it, maybe you can blame your teachers in school that didn't teach you how to use punctuation, write in complete sentences, or actually have a coherent thought.
Posted by Brandon Butler at 1:48PM CDT 09/12/14
Oh, and by the way, take a look at historical carryout to use ratios with their corresponding prices. The price is right where it should be.
Posted by Brandon Butler at 1:55PM CDT 09/12/14
Brandon Boy Brandon after 25 years of growing and selling crops my marketing was poor 3 of 25 I have seen this before you do not seem to account for inflated cost of inputs you are a consumer not a grower I believe record consumption if you cant make this out or read it to bad just another ignorant farmer to you history is what it is past
Posted by andrew mohlman at 9:53PM CDT 09/12/14

Thursday 09/04/14

Frost Potential Increases for Canada Next Week

With our latest rain event exiting from Manitoba today, we are left with a few days of milder, drier weather to allow increased harvest work into early next week. Briefly cool weather could even bring a touch of frost tonight or early Saturday to parts of northern Saskatchewan and maybe parts of central Manitoba.

The sun angle is lowering and the nights are noticeably longer. The average first frost dates are rapidly approaching across many northern areas while southern areas typical don't see the first frost until middle or even third week of September. Normal rarely occurs with weather and first frost data shows widely varying dates from year to year, because of different weather patterns with each season.

During 2013, most areas saw the first frosts come later than average allowing for a great harvest. This year we see potential of some cold weather by the time we get into the middle and end of next week that could bring frost or even some freeze conditions to at least northern areas of the Prairies if not even across southern zones.

While it is too early to start becoming detailed with a frost forecast, we see pretty good consistency with most of the models we use. There are even a couple of computer outputs that would bring some snow to parts of the front range of the Canadian Rockies during the middle of next week.

Being nearly a week before the possible event leaves us with unanswered questions. Will there be cloudiness that keeps the nights milder or will there be enough wind to prevent radiational cooling? Could the brunt of the cold air slide by just to the north? These are questions we can't definitively answer, but we do see a potential threat of frost or freeze for the middle or end of next week.

The threat would be more to some of the later-seeded crops that are still in the maturing stage. Some crops have already been partially swathed or have reached maturity. There will be very good weather during the next several days for more harvest to take place and a yield that potentially may only be exceeded by last year's crop. We will have to see how next week's weather works out to see if a season-ending frost or freeze knocks down this year's yield.

The weather pattern that brought us last winter's cold air has at times been showing itself all summer and the thought of an early frost has been a little higher on the list this year because of that.

Doug Webster can be reached at


Posted at 11:17AM CDT 09/04/14 by Doug Webster

Wednesday 09/03/14

Cool Conditions to Dominate Next Two Weeks in Northern Crop Areas

OMAHA (DTN) -- Following a mild start to September, forecast model trends point to a heightened possibility of colder conditions by the middle of the month, perhaps resulting in the first occurrence of frost-level temperatures before Sept. 20.

Forecast patterns indicate below-normal temperatures and a possible early frost may visit the northern Corn Belt in the next two weeks. (DTN file photo by Scott R Kemper)

"Based on the forecast model presentation, I would favor a date before Sept. 20 (in North Dakota)," said DTN Senior Ag Meteorologist Doug Webster. "That region looks to be cooler than normal for September and I would think there is a better than even chance that by mid-September one of these polar highs may be strong enough to bring at least some 30-32 degree Fahrenheit readings down through a good portion of North Dakota."

North Dakota's first 32-degree Fahrenheit temperature is usually recorded in the last week of September, according to the 30-year averages for the years 1981-2010; thus, a 32 F reading by Sept, 20 would be generally a week earlier than the 30-year average first-freeze date.

Below-normal temperatures are indicated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center for both the six-to-10-day period and the eight-to-14-day period, ending Friday, Sept. 12, and Tuesday, Sept. 16, respectively.

The implication for crop condition is that crops may not reach full maturity -- or, just barely -- before freezing conditions, due to both a late start to planting last spring and slower-than-average development because of cool conditions this summer. As of Sunday, Aug. 31, for example, just 13% of North Dakota's corn was reported as having reached the dent stage compared with a five-year average of 34%, or around two weeks behind average. A corresponding delay in the first occurrence of freezing temperatures to allow corn to achieve the black layer stage would be in the first few days of October instead of the last 10 days of September.

Brent Mohn, who farms south of the Twin Cities in Minnesota, says his corn crop is mostly 1/4 to 1/2 dented. Some acres didn't start to dent until the last few days.

"It's going to be a mixed bag," he told DTN. "There are good acres, bad acres. Some were planted wet. Some were planted cold. You can see where the tractor was turning on the headlands. A lot of stuff got mudded in."

His area generally gets its first killing frost in late September/early October, but he's convinced there will be quality issues with the crop regardless of when the first frost comes.

"We're going to have an average to below average yield," he said, adding that he anticipates yields closer to 150 bpa when it's all dry. Kernel counts are decent, but they're small. "We're going to have low test weights and a lot of drying costs. Up here in the upper Midwest, that means spoilage issues, wet corn delivered to port and barges with fines and foreign material."

Bryce Anderson can be reached at

Follow Bryce Anderson on Twitter @BAndersonDTN


Posted at 7:22AM CDT 09/03/14 by Bryce Anderson

Friday 08/29/14

Chilly And Wet Fall Ahead

There are two main issues to look at when we think about the fall season of 2014. The first is an early freeze, due to lagging crop development in some areas of the northern Corn Belt.

(Courtesy Midwestern Regional Climate Center)

As we approach the September 1 time frame, there is a fairly high probability for an early freeze to affect the finishing crop in North Dakota. We favor such an occurrence before September 20, based on forecast model presentations. That region looks to be cooler than normal for September, and due to that trend, there is a better than even chance that by mid-September a push southward of polar-origin air may be strong enough to bring at least some 30-32 degree readings down through a good portion of North Dakota. This occurrence would be generally a week earlier than the 30-year average first freeze date as noted in the map below.

In other areas of the northern Corn Belt, we look for average first-freeze dates. However, even an average first occurrence of 32 degree Fahrenheit temperatures may still be too early in areas where development may be lagging. Progress reports do show crop stages ahead of their pace of 2013, which may limit the at-risk issue.

The second primary fall weather hurdle is the overall pattern--and it presents itself as a wet one for the Midwest.

The northern Plains and northern Midwest have below-normal temperatures forecast. This bolsters the idea of not only a freeze threat, but also problems in dry-down for harvest. Other areas of the Corn Belt have milder temperatures. On the other hand, precipitation may be an issue throughout the season in most areas.

Harvest this season, at least in the first portion, will be a slow affair with some drying issues. There will be at least some resemblance to the very-slow harvest of 2009, five years ago. While this season will not be nearly as drawn-out as that year was, higher moisture levels and slower progress than we would like are going to be more prominent this year.


Twitter @BAndersonDTN


Posted at 3:36PM CDT 08/29/14 by Bryce Anderson

Thursday 08/28/14

Canada Harvest Ramps Up Under Favorable Conditions

As we move from late summer to the beginning of fall across Western Canada, the weather is mostly cooperating with farmers. After a period of warm, drier weather from late July through mid-August helped crops catch up, then many areas from Saskatchewan to Manitoba received a healthy dose of rain during the past weekend as a burst of cool weather pushed through the region.

Any soils that were starting to become too dry were put back into the adequate category for much of the central and eastern Prairies. Some dry soils still exist across western and northwestern portions of Alberta. Temperatures turned lower during last weekend as a push of polar air sent readings to below-normal levels in most areas with even a little bit of patchy frost from eastern Alberta to west-central Saskatchewan. It appears that there wasn't significant frost damage.

The normal dates for first frosts are only a week or two away for the northern half of the Prairies with southern areas usually staying away from a killing frost until the third week of September during a normal year. Normal does not usually happen in weather and given that the upper air pattern is likely to feature a mean trough across Western Canada during the next couple of weeks we will have to keep an eye out for potential frosts or freezes.

Swathing and combining operations are increasing across the region. With better weather expected during the next week or so, the harvest of mature crops will increase substantially. We are likely to see a bump or two in the road as a couple of cold fronts push across the region bringing a short period of showers to western areas Saturday and eastern areas Sunday. Another period of showers may push through the region toward the end of next week. This precipitation will benefit late-maturing crops.

The temperature pattern is expected to remain on the cool side of normal once we reach later this weekend into next week, but for now the origin of the air is coming more from the Pacific than northwest Canada, so any threat of a season-ending frost or freeze appears low. A few spots of light frost can't be ruled out for northern areas by the middle of next week.

Longer-range model products continue on the idea of lower-than-normal temperatures persisting for much of September across the Canadian Prairies with eastern areas of Saskatchewan and Manitoba bearing the brunt of the chill. Given the persistent nature of model forecasts leaning toward a cool outlook next month we see an increased threat of an earlier-than-normal frost or freeze across the region that could affect some of the later-maturing crops.

Doug Webster can be reached at


Posted at 11:49AM CDT 08/28/14 by Doug Webster

Monday 08/25/14

Where Have the 90-Degree Days Gone?

Those of us who wait all winter for those lazy, hazy, hot days of summer have been disappointed this summer as the typical periods of hot, humid weather we normally see across a large portion of the central and eastern U.S. have been hard to find. Absent has been the subtropical ridge which we rely on to allow heat to build under the upper level dome of warm air.

Numerous recording sites from the Plains through the Midwest and into the East all are reporting very low numbers of 90-degree afternoon high temperatures so far this summer. In some cases the 90-degree mark has not been reached and time is starting to run out as summer fades into meteorological fall in just a week.

Hot weather has made an appearance across many portions of the central and southern Midwest and Plains during recent days but for many areas this is the first such "hot spell" of the summer and is not really anything to write home about. This burst of summer temperatures does not look like it will have staying power as some polar air gets back into the mix later this week across the northern half of the central and eastern U.S.

The reasons behind the cool summer are pretty much the same as the reason we saw the cold winter and spring. High latitude blocking has been a persistent feature across North America and through the Greenland region through most of the summer. Only during the past 5 days have we seen this blocking relax enough to allow the subtropical ridge to grow northward into the south-central U.S.

The Bermuda high has also been on vacation this summer and has tended to stay across the central Atlantic rather than poking west into the East Coast of the U.S. as it does many times during a normal summer. The lack of this "heat pump" has kept places like Boston, New York, and Washington D.C. with very few 90-degree afternoons.

More often than not we have seen polar air masses make their way southward into the Midwest and East bringing cooler, drier air. Some of these fronts have even made their way all the way into the southern U.S. bringing cooling to even our most southern states.

The Southwest has also seen "cool" weather during the past month with temperatures averaging as much as 2 to 4 degrees below normal so far during August. Phoenix, Arizona has seen 9 days during August when temperatures have failed to reach the century mark. Normal high temperatures are a few degrees over the 100-degree mark.

Current model products are telling us that summer may try to make a modest attempt to continue into early September with the mostly missing subtropical ridge expected to be more of a player in our weather across the central and eastern U.S. This might mean a few places may add a few more hot days into the tally before summer finally does fade away.

Doug Webster can be reached at

Posted at 11:46AM CDT 08/25/14 by Doug Webster
Comments (6)
Must be you have not been outside much this week!The cool temps earlier this summer are probably our only saving grace,with very little rain since June.We will be shelling corn and running beans next month.
Posted by Raymond Simpkins at 10:13AM CDT 08/26/14
we are in mi. and no 90 this year , lots of rain and big crops comimg .
Posted by Arlen Meeuwsen at 3:52PM CDT 08/26/14
I just got back from a family vacation in McCall Idaho. I was led to believe the inter mountain west and west coast is where all the heat was positioned this Summer. We took a boat cruise on Payette Lake on Saturday afternoon and it was so cold at 2 pm that the boat crew dug out the blankets to keep as somewhat warm. So no heat out there. So where is it?
Posted by MARK & LEA NOWAK at 4:59PM CDT 08/26/14
What is causing the "High Latitude Blocking" ?
Posted by Darwin blank at 11:19PM CDT 08/26/14
We had a fairly "cool" July for western Kansas standards, but August has made up for that. Most of the month of August has been mid to upper 90's with several 100 degree days mixed in. August 2013 was much cooler than this year. We've also only had very spotty rains. Localized areas have seen several inches in an event and fields within in a few miles getting trace amounts. Thru July we had grand visions of finally seeing a good dryland sorghum crop after numerous years of drought, but that is fading fast. Although we had some rains this summer the High Plains region in general is still very dry in regards to profile moisture. I know I'm hoping for an El Nino to maybe bring some much needed moisture to this region.
Posted by Brad Niehues at 8:54AM CDT 08/27/14
OMG, it is global cooling!!! We better pass some sort of treaty or global agreement to address this situation right now.
Posted by Mr. Brandy at 11:50AM CDT 08/28/14
Frost And Farm Progress Show

I've been away most of the past couple weeks looking around Central Europe. It was a great experience and bolstered by something that hasn't been too prevalent in Germany, Switzerland and Austria this summer--sunshine. There were several comments by our guides on tours we took about how the amount of rain this year had hurt the wheat and hay crops. (This is a point emphasized in DTN market weather videos since July.)

Now, there is a quick gearing-up for the Farm Progress (or should it be "Slog-gress"?) Show in Boone, Iowa Tuesday through Thursday this week. For the second time in the past 3 shows in Boone, rain is an issue. The show at the Iowa site was crippled by heavy rain in 2010--had a dry weather event in 2012 during the drought year--and got hammered by heavy rain last week during exhibit set-up, with more rain forecast for this week's event days. Darin Newsom and I do plan to discuss the primary market and weather topics of the day each of the three days of the show and we hope to see you if you are at the show. Our program times are 9:30 AM and 1:00 PM.

I'll post a separate blog item on this topic-but I fully expect first frost dates and a frost forecast to be of high interest. I kept up on enough details from last week's Pro Farmer crop tour to know that scouts found plenty of soybeans along with some corn that need every last growing degree unit available. It also is evident that September 20 is an important date--frost on or before that date, and it won't be a pretty sight to finish the season. There's the question of harvest weather patterns as well.

Bottom line is, there are some critical items weatherwise for this year's Farm Progress Show, in addition to just being able to get to the show itself.


Twitter @BAndersonDTN


Posted at 6:00AM CDT 08/25/14 by Bryce Anderson
Comments (2)
Where it has rained crops look good, but look to be a couple weeks behind. Some places have too much rain. Our area has picked up a little over 5'' thus far in August, however the ground has handled it well as it was getting dry prior to that. What does your crystal ball show for the next ninety days? I can't imagine having to deal with a lot of drying cost with an already pathetic corn market. Bean market nothing to brag about either. Weeds seem to be thriving everywhere.
Posted by GWL 61 at 10:09AM CDT 08/25/14
University information indicates it takes something like 20% of total dent to mature growing degree days (GDD) to go from 100% milk line to 50% milk line. A frost that kills only the plants leaves is expected to have a 5% yield loss at a 50% milk line (12% yield loss with whole plant killed at 50% milk line). (A 50% milk line would be 140 to 190 GDD short of maturity depending on relatvie maturity of the corn.) So a killing frost needs to occur near dent to have a major yield dropping impact. Drying "frosted" corn has its own problems. Freeport, IL
Posted by Freeport IL at 11:50AM CDT 08/25/14

Thursday 08/21/14

Rain and a Turn to Cool Weather for Canada

Fine summer weather has covered the Canadian Prairies from later June through mid August with warm weather and just enough rain to allow crops to catch up in most areas from a late start. The typical spotty nature of summer rains lead to some increased areas of dry top soils during the recent few weeks but rains have made a comeback during recent days across most of the Prairie provinces.

For the most part the recent rains are beneficial with soil moisture levels being bolstered to help filling and maturing crops. Since this is not a perfect world there, is also a downside to the rains, with the wet weather hampering areas where early harvest operations have gotten underway.

More rain is expected during the coming days and with a developing low pressure area expected to lift northward from eastern Montana Saturday through Manitoba Sunday. We may expect some heavy totals for Saskatchewan and Manitoba. There may certainly be too much rain for some areas if all of our weather chart forecasts work out.

Alberta may not see nearly as much rain and with a drier pattern taking over by Monday and Tuesday, harvest activities may resume through areas where they began prior to the recent rain. For Saskatchewan and Manitoba, the expected rain totals could delay or stop any harvest work into the middle of next week to allow fields to dry out a little.

Rain is not the only newcomer to town. Temperatures are trending much lower across the region as air from Western Canada cycles southward into the region from high pressure across the Northwest Territories. An early fall temperature preview can be expected across the region through at least early next week with widespread below-normal readings.

Thanks to the clouds and rainfall, we do not expect any significant frost threat through Monday, but by early Tuesday or early Wednesday of next week we could see some spotty frost for some central and northern areas. At this time, this does not look like a significant problem, but is something to watch. The normal dates for the first freezing weather are fast approaching for northern areas and a late-August frost is not unusual. Southern areas usually escape frost until we get a week or two into September.

Most of our computer model forecasts tell us we might expect to see temperatures average near to below normal as we move into the end of August and early September and leave the door open for some frost damage for any areas that have late-maturing crops.

Doug Webster can be reached at


Posted at 10:53AM CDT 08/21/14 by Doug Webster

Tuesday 08/19/14

The Indian Monsoon Weakens Again

The Monsoon rains would typical arrive along the south coast of India at about the 1st of June and would move into the Mumbai (Bombay) area by June 10th. This year the early part of the Monsoon was delayed but not by enough to be overly concerned about. However, the push towards the northwest after June 10th was quite a different story.

The leading edge of the Monsoon became stuck for awhile and did not make it's final push towards northwest India until after July 15th. In a normal year the Monsoon would reach to near the Pakistan boarder by July 1st. The delayed rains lead to delays in planting for summer crops in the key oilseed and cotton areas of west-central and northwest India.

When the rains finally arrived there was enough rain within a few week period to help ease concerns, somewhat. This lead to increased plantings of the soybean, groundnut and cotton crops in the area and cautious optimism.

However, during the most recent week it appears that the rains have backed away from northwest and west-central India. If this were to be the withdrawal of the Monsoon it would be exceptionally early. This would likely mean a sharp reduction is production for many key crops. This would include those already mentioned as well as others, such as sugarcane, wheat and rapeseed.

While it does not appear that the rains will be moving back towards northwest India during the medium range period it is too soon to call this the withdrawal. It is likely only a break in the Monsoon at this moment. This will allow for a continued planting pace for any crops that still have not been planted and crops will rely on the moisture that was put down when the rains were active over the prior 3 weeks.

One thing we need to watch at this time is temperatures. As the soils dry out due to the lack of meaningful rains the temperatures will turn hotter. This will increase stress to developing crops, especially the soybean crop in west Madhya Pradesh and possibly the sugarcane crop in northwest India as well. Cotton and sorghum crops are better able to handle the heat so long as soil moisture and/or irrigation is adequate.

The longer this drier pattern holds through northwest and west-central India, the higher the risk will be to summer crops and also to winter crops that will be planted later in the year. This weather pattern needs to be watched.

Joel Burgio


Posted at 11:05AM CDT 08/19/14 by Joel Burgio

Thursday 08/14/14

Warm and Dry for Canada, More Rain Needed

Summer has been in full bloom across Western Canada's crop regions during the past few weeks and while this has been great in allowing for rapid crop advancement after the slow start to the season, we have seen an increase in coverage of dry conditions during August.

Dry weather has been in place across Alberta for the longest stretch and conditions there are becoming increasingly stressful for many crops as heat and lack of rain begins to take its toll. Crop ratings are still good as of the first week of August with 75% of the crop rated good or excellent. This is still above the five-year average of 70% but has been on a steady decline as of late.

Heavy rains that fell across Saskatchewan and Manitoba early in the summer are a distant memory as lots of sunny, warm and mostly dry weather during the past several weeks is now beginning to show up in the form of some heat and moisture stress in some areas. Due to the variable nature of summer showers, a few spots are reporting excess moisture while an increasing number of areas need more rain.

Like Alberta, most areas are seeing a good crop but the very high level of good to excellent crop percentages from a few weeks ago are slipping due to the warm, dry midsummer period.

The prospects for a quick end to the dry weather are not that good. More warm, mostly dry weather for the next several days is expected. Some spotty showers will threaten Alberta and southern Saskatchewan through the weekend and a few of these may even release a few heavier downpours. A region-wide beneficial rain is not in the cards for a while, but we may see some improved chances of wet weather later next week or weekend.

The upper level ridge that brought warm, drier summer weather appears as though it will weaken in about a week. This allows a trough to settle into Western Canada and do two things: First, an increase in rain chances should come about later next week as the jet stream flow settles southward taking the storm track south and brings some disturbances in from the Pacific. Secondly, temperatures will also be on the decline as this trough settles in, but not cold enough to bring an early frost, at least not at first.

With the upper air patterns across North America still showing some of the aspects of the last 18 months, we have to be aware that some cool weather could bring an early end to the growing season if everything were to set up properly. The threat of an early frost may be more of a threat to this season's crop than the increasingly dry conditions that set in during the past few weeks. This is something to watch for as we move into late August and early September.

Doug Webster can be reached at


Posted at 10:27AM CDT 08/14/14 by Doug Webster
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