August 17, 2009 / 3:58 PM / in 8 years

Frost hits central Alberta over weekend

WINNIPEG, Manitoba (Reuters) - Frost hit parts of central Alberta during the weekend, Canada’s weather forecasting agency said on Monday.

Freezing temperatures were recorded at weather stations 80 to 100 km (50 to 60 miles) north of the provincial capital of Edmonton, said Environment Canada meteorologist Sandy Massey.

A low of -2.1 Celsius (28.2 Fahrenheit) was recorded Saturday morning northeast of Edmonton, where the temperature remained below freezing for about four hours, Massey said.

A station northwest of the city dropped to -0.9 C (30.4 F) on Saturday morning and remained below freezing for one to two hours, she said.

The same weather station northwest of Edmonton recorded a temperature of -1.4 C (29.5 F) on Sunday morning.

Crops in Western Canada, a key growing area for spring wheat and canola, are about two weeks behind normal development, meaning farmers are counting on frost-free conditions extending into late September to allow their crops to mature.

It will take several days for any crop damage to show up, said Mark Cutts, a crop specialist with the Alberta government. Frosts that reach 1-2 degrees C (1.8-3.6 degrees F) below freezing can significantly affect quality, he said.

Canola is the most popular crop grown in the area northwest of Edmonton, but dryness and grasshoppers have already taken a toll on the crop there, he said. A mix of canola and cereal crops are grown northeast of the city, Cutts said.

A below-freezing temperature of -0.3 C (31.5 F) was recorded in Grande Prairie, Alberta, on Friday [ID:nN14307390].

The weekend frosts did not have any noticeable impact on ICE Winnipeg November canola futures which were down about 1.6 percent on Monday morning.

Weather forecasts for the rest of the week look more promising, with overnight lows expected to be around 6 C to 12 C (42.8 to 53.6 F) across the Prairies, Massey said.

Editing by Rob Wilson

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