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 firstname.lastname@example.org
© Copyright 2014 DTN/The Progressive Farmer. All rights reserved.