A good dose of summer weather during the past two weeks has helped develop crops more in line with normal for late summer across Western Canada. While still lagging a bit for most areas, crop progress is in much better shape as we move through the final days of August than what we saw at midsummer.
The reason for the improved weather conditions can be tied to the development of a strong subtropical ridge across the central and western U.S., which is at times bubbling northward into the southern Prairie provinces. While very dry, hot conditions have become a problem during recent weeks for the western Midwest and Northern Plains of the U.S. A more modest mix of warmth and a few short showery periods have covered the crop region of Western Canada.
A few weeks ago, the concern was that crops may not mature before fall frosts and freezes arrive, but given the current and forecast weather patterns of the next few weeks, the outlook is becoming more favorable. The pattern of warmth and only occasional periods of showers is expected to continue into early September and very possibly longer than that.
The warmth and only off-and-on showers should allow crops to finish maturing and for harvest to increase and expand with only minimal delays. Swathing and harvest is already on the increase across all three Prairie provinces and should continue through next week with minimal problems. Soil moisture remains at favorable levels for late maturing and filling crops.
So far there are few, if any, indications of any cold air pushes from northern Canada that could bring season-ending frosts or freezes to the region. Climate model forecasts keep above-normal temperatures in place across the region for September. Of course, there can always be that brief rogue cold air mass that comes along and drops temperatures, but at this point we do not see anything on the horizon through next week.
Normal first killing frost dates vary from the last few days of August across the far northern crop zones of Alberta and Saskatchewan to the middle of September closer to the U.S. border.
Doug Webster can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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