Outlook improves for Prairies’ winter cereals

(FIle photo by Allan Dawson)

CNS Canada — Following concerns in September about seeding winter cereals in dry conditions, acres are down but crops seeded in Western Canada are doing good heading into the winter.

“Very little moisture is required in the fall to get that seed to germinate and start growing, especially if it’s been seeded shallow,” said Amanda Swanson, a southern Saskatchewan winter wheat agronomist with Ducks Unlimited.

The final crop report from Manitoba Agriculture, released Monday, said germination and stand establishment of winter cereal crops were good but seeded acres were down across the province.

Reports in mid-September from southern Saskatchewan and Alberta said limited acres of winter cereals had been seeded due to dry conditions. A brief reprieve came in the second half of September as rain fell.

“We always recommend guys to seed first and then usually the rains will come. Even if the rains don’t come and it doesn’t germinate in the fall it will germinate, come up in the springtime,” Swanson said.

If moisture doesn’t come until spring it doesn’t mean the crop won’t come up, Swanson said, adding it’ll just act more like a spring wheat than a winter wheat.

Farmers in Western Canada last fall seeded 535,000 acres of winter wheat, eventually harvesting 398,000 acres, according to Statistics Canada. Production in the three Prairie Provinces came in at 546,400 tonnes, which was well below the 1.02 million grown in the previous year.

Swanson has been speaking to producers across southern Saskatchewan and those who seeded winter cereals have said germination is at the two-leaf stage — the three-leaf stage being ideal.

“(The) seeding date didn’t really make a huge difference this year just with the conditions being so dry,” she said. “The crop stages for the majority are at the same stage across the board regardless.”

Swanson has heard from colleagues in northern Saskatchewan though that the situation is different, with the area not having been as dry.

“There were lot of unseeded acres in the north and guys had fields that they wanted to get back into production and they were going to seed (them to) winter wheat,” she said.

Swanson estimates that while winter cereal acres seeded in southern Saskatchewan may be down, they may have been offset with increased acres in the north.

In Manitoba, Jake Davidson, executive director of Winter Cereals Canada, is waiting for numbers from Statistics Canada on seeded acres to be released, but from what he has heard he thinks crops are doing well.

“It just stayed warm so long for people. We had people (seeding on) chem fallow, stubble and their crops are up excellent,” he said.

Some directors with Winter Cereals Canada are based in western Manitoba and from what Davidson has heard from them, he thinks winter cereal acres seeded north of the Trans-Canada Highway should be in good shape.

— Ashley Robinson writes for Commodity News Service Canada, a Winnipeg company specializing in grain and commodity market reporting. Follow her at @AshleyMR1993 on Twitter.

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