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 email@example.com
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