Prairie winter wheat crop off to good start

Winter wheat crops seeded in Western Canada this fall are off to a good start so far thanks to some rains seen in September and early October.

“We’ve had some timely rainfall in September and some fairly mild conditions, which have helped with the establishment of the crop,” said Bruce Burnett, crop and weather specialist with CWB in Winnipeg.

The rains helped improve soil moisture conditions, which is integral in getting the crop established ahead of the winter freeze-up.

But because soil moisture conditions were drier in late August and early September in some regions, farmers probably didn’t seed as much of the crop as they wanted to.

“The increase over last year is probably going to be still muted because of the fact that we were drier earlier on,” said Burnett. “And the second fact is that the harvest has just been quite a bit later than it had been last year and the year before.”

In the fall of 2012, farmers in Canada seeded 2.18 million acres of winter wheat, and it’s expected 2.25 million were seeded in 2013, according to Statistics Canada data.

Burnett said most of the seeded crops look as though they have enough leaf development to survive throughout the winter, though continued warm weather would be ideal.

“We’d like to see some fairly warm temperatures over probably the next couple of weeks, before we start to hit that time where we sort of really start to get severe frosts and the crop goes into dormancy,” he said.

How the crop does overall will depend on weather conditions over the winter in Western Canada — including how much snowfall there is, when it falls and what kinds of temperatures are seen.

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

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