July 8, 2008


Canada expects average winter wheat yields

Average yields are expected for the Canadian winter wheat crop this year, but industry sources say warm weather is needed in the coming weeks to speed crop development.


Jake Davidson, executive manager with Winter Cereals Canada Inc. in Minnedosa, Manitoba, said winter wheat crop development is a week to 10 days behind normal as a result of cool, wet weather during the spring.


Generally, however, he said he still expects to see average yields and that winterkill has not been a significant problem this year. Warm weather is needed now to encourage good plant growth, according to Davidson.


Overall, yields would be average, depending on weather conditions over the next six weeks, he said.


In some areas, winter wheat crops are far enough behind that farmers who don't normally need to spray for wild oats have been forced to do so. Others will likely have to spray for fusarium, he said.


Normally, many producers would begin to harvest their winter wheat fields in roughly six weeks. A delayed harvest is likely, thus increasing the chances of early frost damage.


Producers are also beginning to worry about the slow development of rapeseed crops in Western Canada so far this year, Davidson said. Rapeseed is the preferred stubble for winter wheat crops, and a late rapeseed harvest gives less time for winter wheat to be planted.


If the rapeseed crop is late coming off the fields, there is no place to put the winter wheat and that will ruin farmers' plans for the next year, he said.


Growers have until about Sept. 15 or 21, depending on their insurance programme, to get their winter wheat in and make it insurable.


Bruce Burnett, director of weather and market analysis for the Canadian Wheat Board, also forecasts average winter wheat yields this year provided weather is reasonably favourable in the coming weeks.


He noted, however, that abandonment of winter wheat crops was higher this year than in years past, particularly in Manitoba. Abandonment rates in Saskatchewan and Alberta were more or less in line with previous years' rates.


Some areas were not tilled in spring, which would slightly affect yields, Burnett said.


He acknowledged the increased risk of fusarium this year because of the delayed development of winter wheat crops, which he agreed is roughly a week to two weeks behind normal.


Wet weather and high humidity during the early kernel development stage are conducive to the development of the disease.

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