Prairie winter wheat in good shape, analyst says

CNS Canada — Winter wheat crops across Western Canada are generally in good shape, according to a CWB analyst, although the lateness of the spring thaw will also push back the harvest in many areas.

“The winter wheat is in reasonably good shape,” said Bruce Burnett, a CWB weather and crops specialist. Emergence and moisture conditions were good, he said, with only isolated winterkill being reported in some areas that saw water ponding in the spring.

Snow cover was adequate across the Prairies over the winter months, protecting wheat fields from the cold temperatures, said Burnett.

However, the lateness of the spring this year will also push back harvest dates for winter wheat. Burnett noted one reason farmers plant winter wheat is to avoid disease problems, but a later harvest could leave fields more susceptible to some disease issues.

Prairie farmers planted 1.155 million acres of winter wheat in the fall of 2013, with 1.015 million surviving through the winter, according to a Statistics Canada report. The same area was planted the previous year, but only 935,000 acres survived to be harvested in 2013.

Looking at spring wheat, Burnett said planting delays in Western Canada could sway some area away from wheat and into other shorter-season grains.

However, recent strength in wheat prices, driven primarily by drought concerns in the U.S., should also generate more interest in the crop.

Overall, he said there was still plenty of time to seed wheat, with total area likely ending up in line with the StatsCan acreage intentions.

StatsCan recently pegged intended spring wheat area (excluding durum) in the Prairie provinces at 17.66 million acres, which compares with 18.73 million seeded to spring wheat varieties in 2013.

— Phil Franz-Warkentin writes for Commodity News Service Canada, a Winnipeg company specializing in grain and commodity market reporting.



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