Slow crop start limits frost damage on Prairies

The late start to seeding on Canada’s Prairies, along with slow germination of early-seeded crops, prevented any significant damage occurring from frost over the past couple of nights.

Temperatures in Western Canada dropped to as low as -4 to -5 C overnight Monday in select areas and fell to -1 to -2 C overnight Tuesday in other select areas of the Prairies.

Some of the areas in which the mercury dropped below the freezing mark for five hours included northern areas of Saskatchewan’s grain belt, around Melfort, Tisdale, Nipawin and Prince Albert.

Some lows of 0 C to -2 C were reported in Manitoba.

“The damage overall to the various crops is believed to be minimal overall,” said Bruce Burnett, director of weather and crop surveillance for the Canadian Wheat Board.

The late start to seeding in many locations has resulted in development of the crops also being well behind normal, he said.

“There may have been some early-seeded crops that had emerged, and those may have suffered damage, but to tell you the truth, the growth of the majority of the crops continues to be well behind,” Burnett said.

He also acknowledged that while crops in Alberta have been in the ground longer, the dry conditions over a good portion of the province have prevented germination and in turn very little of the crop was above ground when the freezing temperatures hit.

Any damage to the early-seeded crops will take roughly three to seven days to be assessed.

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