Storms trim potential for big Prairie crops

Rainfall for July 13, 2016 as of 6:40 p.m. CT. (CoCoRaHS.org)

Reuters — Heavy rain and strong winds are likely to curb the potential for Western Canada’s crops, government officials said, but the harvest may still be bigger than average.

Pockets across Saskatchewan, Canada’s biggest wheat- and canola-growing province, received as much as five inches of rain, strong winds and hail since Sunday.

The storms flattened some wheat and may cause disease in the province’s lentil and pea crops, which are sensitive to wet conditions, Brent Flaten, a spokesman for Saskatchewan’s agriculture ministry in Moose Jaw, said Wednesday.

“Everything is going to be downgraded now as far as yield potential,” he said, adding that crops were still in good condition relative to past years.

The extent of crop damage may not be clear for a week, depending on how quickly flooded fields drain and whether flattened crops rise again, he said.

Favourable spring and summer weather has led to estimates of a larger-than-average Prairie harvest this year. Canada is a major wheat exporter and the largest canola exporter.

The storms also reached Manitoba, where they flattened cereal crops, the government said on Monday.

Alberta, by contrast, received only beneficial rains in the past week for cereal, oilseed and pulse crops, said Neil Whatley, a provincial crop specialist in Stettler.

Further east, high temperatures and high humidity led to heat warnings Wednesday for much of Ontario and Quebec, including Ottawa, Toronto and Montreal.

The hot weather first moved into the region on Tuesday and also covered parts of New Brunswick.

Eastern Canada can expect some respite Friday, when a cooler air mass will arrive, Environment Canada said.

— Rod Nickel is a Reuters correspondent covering the agriculture and mining sectors from Winnipeg. Includes files from Ethan Lou of Reuters in Toronto.

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