Western Canada avoids killing frost overnight

Thu Sep 16, 2010 10:06am EDT
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WINNIPEG, Manitoba (Reuters) - Western Canada escaped killing frost overnight into Thursday morning, but temperatures cold enough to end crop growth were on the way for Thursday night, an Environment Canada meteorologist said.

Frost is an acute concern for Western Canadian farmers this year because many crops are one to two weeks behind normal growth, leaving them vulnerable to damage that reduces quality.

The coldest recorded Prairie temperature overnight was -1.4 degrees Celsius (29.48 Fahrenheit), at Peace River, Alberta. Crop specialists consider that a light frost,

Environment Canada expects crop-killing temperatures on Thursday night in parts of Saskatchewan and Alberta, said meteorologist Sandy Massey. The Edmonton, Alberta, area could get as cold as minus 8 degrees Celsius (17.6 Fahrenheit), she said.

Frost kills plants when temperatures fall below minus 2.2 degrees Celsius (28 degrees Fahrenheit).

Canada is the top exporter of spring wheat, canola and rapeseed and a key shipper of oats.

The harvest of all crops is moving at its slowest pace in six years due to rainy weather, with less than one-quarter finished as of Monday.

(Reporting by Rod Nickel; editing by Jim Marshall)