Late canola may hinder winter cereal seedings

(Resource News International) — The western Canadian winter wheat harvest is just getting underway, and early signs point to an average crop, according to an official with Winter Cereals Canada. However, while Canadian farmers planted more winter wheat in 2007/08, the lateness of this year’s canola crop may hinder plantings this fall.

Jake Davidson, executive manager of Winter Cereals Canada, said the winter wheat harvest was a little later than normal and was just getting underway in the southern regions of the Canadian Prairies. Despite the lateness, Davidson said farmers he had spoken with were generally pleased with how their crops had fared this year.

Davidson said “it’s a big country” and crop conditions over the growing season were variable across the Prairies, with some areas doing better than others.

“I don’t think anyone would say that this is a record year, but it definitely won’t be a bad year either,” said Davidson, who also farms at Minnedosa, Man., about 50 km north of Brandon. He expected harvest progress would pick up considerably in the next week to 10 days, as many fields are “ready to go.”

Canola crops behind

While this year’s winter wheat harvest moves forward, Davidson was concerned that the lateness of other crops may limit the acres planted to winter wheat for next year.

In Western Canada producers typically seed winter wheat into canola stubble in order to provide some protection over the winter months. With the canola crop generally two weeks behind normal, the window for planting winter wheat will be smaller, according to Davidson.

“If the canola crop is late, our crop goes in late if it goes in,” said Davidson, adding that producers usually like to have their winter wheat planted by Sept. 15.

Western Canadian farmers planted 1.36 million acres of winter wheat for harvest in 2008, according to Statistics Canada data. The area was up from 975,000 acres the previous year.

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