Harvest weather outlook offers reasons to cheer

Canola south of Ethelton, Sask. on Aug. 3, 2017. (Dave Bedard photo)

CNS Canada — Farmers on the Prairies can expect decent weather for this harvest season, according to Drew Lerner, meteorologist and founder of World Weather Inc.

Most farmers will experience periodic showers, he said, but shouldn’t be subjected to the continual drizzles and sheets of rain that caused heartaches last year.

“Most of the Prairies will see a good mix of rain and sunshine and more sunshine than rain, actually.”

Lerner said he sees no significant rainfall for the Prairies for August and a bit more for September, but it shouldn’t be enough to cause serious setbacks for farmers.

“There will be a certain amount of mixed emotions about that, of course, with it being as dry as it is in some areas,” he said. “Putting moisture back into the ground before we go into the cold season would be extremely important for planting in the spring.”

Lerner said his forecasts are based on long-term weather patterns that have been locked in over the Prairies for some time. He expected the northwesterly flows to continue through most of autumn, which means humidity will stay low, and that means cooler air will arrive sooner to the region, making rain less likely.

Large amounts of rainfall, necessary to boost soil moisture reserves, aren’t likely to happen.

Frost could strike during the last week of August or early September, he said, but added most crops will be advanced enough by then that the frost shouldn’t do much harm.

Farmers in northern Alberta and northwestern Saskatchewan might want to keep their fingers crossed, however, because some crops there are behind in development and could be susceptible, depending on how hard of a frost rolls through.

“We’re kind of concerned about that,” he said.

A second round of cold will likely strike in mid-September, he said.

After that, the weather pattern shifts and the coldest temperatures should appear in eastern parts of North America. That could place Manitoba fields at greater risk, he said.

Overall though, it’s not a bad scenario that’s playing out, although there will always be some nervousness about corn and soybean crops in the southeastern Prairies, he said.

“The odds are pretty good that we will cool down in a more typical manner this year and the growing season will end relatively seasonably.”

— Terry Fries writes for Commodity News Service Canada, a Winnipeg company specializing in grain and commodity market reporting.

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