West’s winter wheat conditions somewhat of a mystery

(Commodity News Service Canada) –– The large amount of snow that’s fallen across many parts of Western Canada would normally be a good thing for the winter wheat crop. This year, however, it may not be the case.

Jake Davidson, executive manager of Winter Cereals Canada at Minnedosa, Man., said wet soil conditions in fall were compounded when snow fell so early.

“The big concern is the crop that was in got that big snow in November, and the ground was not frozen. The problem with the ground not frozen is things like snow mould set in,” Davidson said.

“There’ve been guys that have gone into their fields to make wind rows, and the ground is still moist under the snow.

“The normal conditions, where the ground is frozen and the plants go dormant, have not happened, and we aren’t sure how things will look in the spring.”

When asked if the more publicized winter wheat worries in the U.S. Plains would have a positive impact on the market, Davidson said it would, but added it has been a challenge finding good-quality product in Canada.

“Anything that creates a shortage usually sends prices higher. The problem here is that we don’t have a lot of good-quality product that will get the price. That is a big concern,” he said.

A total of 705,000 acres of winter wheat were seeded in Western Canada during the last crop year. Early indications were for the current crop to be much larger, but that did not pan out because of the poor quality of last year’s crop.

“Seed sales were very poor. Producers that had booked seed never took it,” Davidson said. “The seed is such high quality and there wasn’t a lot of high quality around, so seed companies shipped a lot of it.”

Projections from Statistics Canada show about the same amount of acreage for this year.

Producers who have seeded winter wheat this year are the diehards, Davidson said.

“Some people who aren’t sure about how the crop will do, they aren’t in the market,” he said. “If we can see a nice fall, we believe we could double the acreage for next year.”

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