Canadian Crops Vulnerable

Canadian grains and oilseeds are suffering from delayed maturity opening the door for potential freeze damage, whilst canola in Alberta also has suffered from drought, says Gail Martell of Martell Crop Projections.

Frost is the number one concern in Alberta, according to the August 15th crop report, due to cold, dry spring weather that delayed planting. A severe drought was alleviated by heavy rainfall from mid July to mid August, but storms this past week also damaged crops. Drought was so severe to begin with that in some areas, canola seeds did not even germinate until July, says Gail.

Alberta growers claim there is no hope for a normal yield. Farmers rated their spring wheat 22% good-excellent, 45% fair and 33% poor to very poor on the August 13 crop report. Canola conditions were even worse, with 36% of the crop poor to very poor, she adds.

Western Saskatchewan also suffered from drought but rainfall picked up substantially in July leading to favourable growing conditions, and moisture has continued to improve in August. Growers reported that 71% of provincial farms had sufficient field moisture for developing crops. The overriding concern here is that frost may damage immature crops, she says.

Crop development in some areas is 3 weeks behind schedule. Most of the crops are 2 weeks behind normal developmentally. If frost holds off until late September, canola would have a chance to make a good yield, but frost typically arrives September 10-20, says Gail.

Manitoba began the growing season with ample field moisture, thanks to heavy snowmelt, but flooding delayed seeding and cut the area that was intended to be planted in wheat. Summer growing conditions have been favourable, for the most part, but small grains are maturing very slowly due to delayed seeding date and cool June-July weather.

Manitoba small grains were just beginning to turn colour in mid August, as most of the crop was in the heavy dough stage. Growing degree days have been 150-200 units behind normal due to very cool growing season, Gail concludes.