Prairie seeding on hold until mid-, late May

Producers in Western Canada continue to wait for favourable weather conditions to dry out fields enough to begin seeding operations, and while a few producers may be able to start some minor field preparations in the next week, the bulk of seeding is unlikely to begin until the middle or end of May.

“Producers are very much in need of some warmer and drier weather,” said Bruce Burnett, director of the Canadian Wheat Board’s weather and crop surveillance department in Winnipeg.

Seeding operations across the Prairies are now roughly one to two weeks behind normal. Normally by the first week of May, seeding of the various crops in Western Canada are 10 per cent complete.

Last year roughly 15 per cent of the planned crops had been seeded, with producers in Manitoba having at least one-third of the intended crop in the ground.

“Very little seeding has been done to date due to the cool and excessively wet soils,” Burnett said.

The weather outlook over the next few days across the Prairies includes the possibility of large amounts of wet snow and temperatures close to the freezing mark, he said.

“The soils really need to warm up in order to aid germination of the seeds that are planted and with readings hovering around the freezing level at night, the process will be slow and tedious,” he said.

The snow itself is not a problem, but the extra moisture is not exactly being welcomed, Burnett said.

If the weather fails to co-operate between now and the end of May, he said, roughly two million to five million acres will not be seeded.

“We are really hoping that producers get that warm, dry weather window by the middle of May.”

The later the crop goes into the ground, the more producers will consider alternative crops, he said.

“A lot of the producers the CWB has spoken to at meetings this spring have a Plan A, Plan B and Plan C in terms of what to put into the ground if the weather fails to co-operate,” Burnett said. “They’ve got the seed booked for each possibility in most cases.”

Canola, spring wheat and durum have the longer growing season requirements, and could be the crops altered if the delays in seeding continue, he said.

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