Fall weather forecast bodes well for harvest

Forecasters say western Canadian farmers are in for a much more benign fall than last year, which should help calm the harvest nerves.

“You sleep a lot better at night if you put in a long day on the combine,” said Todd Lewis, president of the Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan.

“It’s a lot more stressful to be sitting around drinking coffee every day until noon, watching the skies for clouds.”

That was a far-too-common occurrence during last year’s harvest-from-hell where farmers were lucky to get a long enough reprieve from wet weather to put in five hours on the combine on any given day.

It is unlikely that growers are in for a repeat of those disheartening conditions in 2020, according to a leading weather forecaster.

“I see no indication of that at this point,” said Brett Anderson, AccuWeather’s Canada weather expert.

“Nothing tells me that we’re going to be dealing with that type of situation this fall.”

The formation of a weak La Nina weather system should prevent a reoccurrence of last year’s harvest nightmare.

“They haven’t officially called it yet but it’s there,” said Anderson.

It should result in near normal precipitation and temperature for much of the Prairie region this autumn.

Anderson said it will cause a more active storm track in British Columbia but the storms will “dry out” as they move over the Canadian Rockies.

The B.C. storms will push the cool air north into the Yukon and the Northwest Territories resulting in a possible delay in the first fall frost in many regions of the Prairies.

“Based on what I see, I would say we’re probably looking at a week later than normal first freeze across the region,” he said.

Temperature are expected to be near normal for Alberta and Saskatchewan and above normal in Manitoba.

Lewis said it already feels like a more normal fall weather pattern is emerging, allowing him to start combining his durum on Aug. 28.

At one point it seemed like the crop was going to be late in the southern Prairies but an August heat wave took care of that.

“Everybody is quite surprised how quickly the crop came in with the heat,” he said.

Lewis hopes Mother Nature keeps the taps turned off at this point until the crop is safely in the bin.

“It’s extremely expensive to run equipment in the conditions we had last year — lots of breakdowns and lots of repairs,” he said.

Farmers can cover a lot of ground when the weather co-operates, so he hopes Anderson is right because Statistics Canada estimates there is an above-average crop standing in the fields.

“I question the idea that we’re going to have a bumper crop. I think we’re more in line for an average crop,” said Lewis.

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