Warm weather has been the rule across the Canadian Prairies so far during September with readings averaging as much as 10 to 15 degrees Fahrenheit (5 to 8 Celsius) above normal across Alberta and Saskatchewan and from 6 to 12 degrees F (3 to 6 C) above normal across Manitoba.
The persistent warmth has allowed any remaining filling crops to mature. Along with a still mostly favorable soil moisture condition reported through the region, crops have not been stressed very much from the drier pattern of recent weeks.
The harvest outlook from a weather perspective looks excellent during the next several days as dry, warmer-than-normal weather is expected to continue for most areas. Some cooling is expected for the eastern Prairies later this weekend and early next week, but it's still not cool enough to end the growing season with frost or freeze.
The weather pattern continues to favor an extension of the growing season beyond the normal first killing frost dates for the region. This is important, since crops struggled to develop during the core of the summer, and only made strong gains with the late summer and early fall warmth.
With harvest in full swing throughout the region, the main harvest weather issues now turn to rain potential. Dry weather looks like it's locked in through Monday, but after that a low pressure system should cross the region Tuesday and Wednesday with at least some moderate rains for much of the region. Another bump in the road could arrive later next week.
A mean upper level ridge has dominated Western Canada since mid-August which is why we have seen warmth and less rain but there are signs that a trough of low pressure may start to set up shop through the region during the second half of September. If so, we may start to see a little more rainfall every few days along with a cooling trend in weather.
Longer range climate models are not pessimistic for the late September to early October period, however. The weather is expected to remain at milder-than-normal levels with near-to-below normal rainfall expected. Given this outlook, harvest operations should be able to maintain a good pace most of the time during the coming few weeks.
Doug Webster can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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