Ag Weather Forum
Doug Webster DTN Senior Ag Meteorologist

Thursday 07/31/14

Warmer Temps Benefit Prairie Crops

The weather gods have been on the side of the farmer during the past few weeks across most of the cropland of Western Canada as warmer, drier weather helped crops catch up on crop development. The aerial coverage of excess soil moisture continues to decrease with the majority of farmland now in the adequate soil moisture category.

The turn to a much more favorable weather pattern for crop growth resembles what we saw last year when a cold, wet spring was followed by a very good summer and high crop yields. The jury is still out on what kind of yield we will see this year, but the recent turn to good growing weather is certainly good news and brings about a more favorable potential for the final outcome of many of this summer's crops.

The weather mechanics of why we have seen a turnaround lie with the strengthening of the subtropical ridge across the western U.S. during the mid-summer period. There has been a ridge across the U.S. West for many of the past several months, but it has not been strong enough to extend northward to fend off the active storm track we saw during the spring and early summer until recently.

The subtropical ridge now has enough influence to keep fronts weak and push the main low pressure track to the north of the Prairies. The result for Canada's cropland is a warmer, drier pattern but with a few occasional showers to prevent soils from getting too dry.

One region that is seeing a little too much of a good thing is the southern and southwestern portion of Alberta. Some hot days combined with less rainfall of recent weeks is drying soils a little too much. This is not unlike the pattern we have encountered for much of the past year where the far western and southwestern Prairies have seen less chill and wet weather than areas further to the east across Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

Many of the same aspects of the upper air weather pattern are still in place across North America that we saw last winter and for the past year and a half. High latitude blocking and occasional pushes of polar air southward through the central parts of the continent have persisted into mid-summer. Fortunately the long days of summer prevent harsh cold, but if this pattern keeps up we might what to keep an eye on an early frost or freeze threats late in the summer or early fall, especially if crops are running a little behind schedule.

For now, we should enjoy the favorable conditions for crop development, as well as the favorable outlook for the next week or so. The August outlook, by some of the more reliable models, keeps the region in a mostly favorable pattern for crop weather. Eastern areas may see a little more cool weather once in a while than the west and some of the higher chances of rain may be for the eastern Prairies rather than the west; however, it is still a pretty good outlook from a weather standpoint for August.

Doug Webster can be reached at


Posted at 10:43AM CDT 07/31/14 by Doug Webster
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