Lots of rain, but disease a risk: expert

For some crops, like lentils, durum and hay, wet weather could cause disease and quality issues and reduce yields

REGINA — Drew Lerner’s summer forecast for the Prairies suggests crops will have adequate moisture through the vegetative and reproductive growth stage.

However, diseases will likely be a problem for vulnerable crops such as lentils, and production of high-quality hay may be problematic.

Lerner, who runs World Weather Inc., based his prediction on jet stream cycles.

He looked at historical weather data in 18-year intervals and found the weather patterns this year are similar to 1980, when there was a weak ridge of high pressure across the U.S. Plains with the peak of the ridge coming up to the southern Prairies.

He said this high-pressure ridge will cause a lot of instability in the southern Prairies.

“We will get a lot of strong thunderstorms, a lot of rain events coming and going across the Prairies quite frequently,” Lerner said after a presentation at Canada’s Farm Progress Show in Regina.

“We will have a good mix of weather, but there will be a tendency for more preoccupation then what some of us want.”

Lerner’s modelling suggests prolonged periods of dry weather are not likely to occur until the fall, which doesn’t bode well for disease prone crops and hay production.

“I think there will be some issues with wet weather and diseases and quality concerns for durum wheat and the lentil crop,” he said.

Early harvested crops may also be affected by the wet weather pattern.

“When we get to the harvest season, we are still going to be in this wetter mode, and when the temperatures cool down a little bit, it’s not going to be a very friendly environment for the early season harvest, so the lentils and early pulse crops, the peas, the durum wheat. Those will all be challenged as to when and how quickly they can get into the fields and get those crops out without crop damage.”

Crops harvested later in the year will likely have more favourable weather conditions and will have more opportunity to dry down as the wet cycle ends in the fall.

“I think we’ll start drying down a bit when the canola starts coming off, but it’s the late canola that will do best because it will have a chance to dry out better,” he said.

Lerner said southern Manitoba will likely face the wettest conditions this summer.

In terms of temperature, the middle and eastern Prairies will probably see slightly warmer temperatures, he said

Alberta looks set to be cooler than normal.

“Alberta has been the warmest for the longest period of time, and because of that they are due for a bit of a correction,” he said.

“We’ve already seen that in the soft frost over the past few days, and we will probable see more of that later this summer.”

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