Tuesday, 28 June 2011 15:04

Wet weather hindering Prairie crops

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By Jamie Woodford
This year’s crops are significantly behind last year’s growth, according to Canadian Wheat Board (CWB) director of weather and market analysis Bruce Burnett.

“Unfortunately, in the early part of the seeding season we were significantly behind even last year.

So more of the crop has been planted later this year,” he said during the CWB’s annual spring briefing of crop conditions across the Prairies.

Some areas in southeast Saskatchewan and southwest Manitoba crops are already suffering from excess moisture issues.

“Acreage abandonment will be relatively small compared to the other provinces,” said Burnett. “Locally, it will be a big deal, but it works out to be less than one per cent of the total area in Alberta, so that number is quite small.”

Projected all-wheat production is forecast at 20.3 million tonnes, including 3.8 million tonnes of durum, and barley production is forecast at 7.7 million tonnes.

The all-wheat yield is projected at 37.9 bushels per acres, durum yields are forecast at 35.5 bushels per acre, and barley yields are projected to be 59.1 bushels per acre.

Mother Nature has provided a “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” effect where some areas have too much moisture, some have too little, and some received just the right amount. What she brings next will be critical for the harvest.

Burnett said because the bulk of crops were planted May 15 and beyond, they are at greater risk of not producing a quality crop by the end of growing season.

“Hopefully we receive an extended growing season this year because we’re going to need those extra days to help preserve crop quality and keep frost away from the latest crops,” he said.

Although Burnett couldn’t estimate the overall economic loss, he did say last year’s estimates of unseeded areas was around 10 million acres.

“As the markets evolve here that’s when you can start calculating how much the loss in income was, but it will be very substantial,” he said.

As to how the impacts will trickle down to the consumer, Burnett said it would depend on the commodity.

“For something like wheat, Canada doesn’t really set price direction necessarily. In terms of the overall world market, we’re 20-25 million tonnes out of a 650-million tonne crop,” he said. “Certainly for wheat, prices have been high, but it’s not necessarily related to our planting difficulties here in the prairie region. For other commodities more localized nature, there is perhaps a greater impact.”

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