Late harvest to hurt Prairie winter wheat seeding

(Michael Thompson photo courtesy ARS/USDA)

CNS Canada –– Monday (Sept. 15) marks the full coverage crop insurance seeding deadline for winter wheat in Manitoba and Saskatchewan, with Alberta farmers having until the 20th or 30th of the month, depending on their location.

A late harvest this year, however, has prevented some farmers from getting the crop seeded in time.

“Unfortunately we’re seeing a lot more canola sitting in the swath, and since canola is our preferred stubble we’re not doing exceptionally well,” said Jake Davidson, executive director of Winter Cereals Canada at Minnedosa, Man.

He estimated acreage planted this fall could be similar to last year, adding “last year was a low year anyway, so it might not be that hard to match it.”

Last fall, farmers in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta seeded 1.13 million acres of winter wheat, down from 1.16 million the year prior, according to Statistics Canada. Manitoba farmers planted 435,000 acres, with 500,000 acres in Saskatchewan and 195,000 in Alberta last fall.

Though some farmers may miss the deadlines for seeding to get full crop insurance coverage, they may still seed the crop if conditions look good. They will also be able to get some reduced insurance coverage if they plant after the deadlines.

“I’ve had people seed after Oct. 1 and come up with a crop,” said Davidson. “It just depends on the experience the person has, the weather conditions and how brave they are.”

Some producers may even experiment and seed into dormancy and wait for it to come up in the spring.

“A lot of people who grow winter wheat, they’ll put some in just to see what happens,” Davidson added.

There has been good demand for seed this year, he said, adding there must have been a place for it to go. Farmers who aren’t able to plant on canola stubble are likely seeding winter wheat into their summerfallow or chemfallow acres, he added.

So far, conditions for the crops that have been seeded are good, as soil moisture levels are favourable in many areas.

“There are some crops that really have come along well where guys planted it into chemfallow and stuff like that,” said Davidson. “What got planted is growing very nicely; it’s just a matter of whether it gets warm again and how moist it is.”

— Terryn Shiells writes for Commodity News Service Canada, a Winnipeg company specializing in grain and commodity reporting.

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