Prairie crop yields projected to be higher than last year
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A recent Statistic Canada report estimating this year’s Prairie crop yields projects huge increases compared to last year.
After the serious drought conditions in the summer of 2021 where, according to Stats Canada, some cereal grains experienced their largest year-over-year yield decrease on record, falling to levels not seen in more than a decade, this year’s crop is looking much better.
But it’s not great.
Bill Campbell, the president of Keystone Agricultural Producers said, his harvesting activity so far suggests an average-sized crop.
“Virtually everyone can say this year’s crop is better than last year’s, but it’s certainly not a bumper crop. Whether it will end up an average crop overall in Manitoba is hard to determine yet,” said Campbell, who runs a farm near Minto.
Harvesting is only 40 per cent completed, which is about three weeks behind the five-year average of 71 per cent complete by this time of the year, according to Manitoba Agriculture’s latest weekly Crop Report.
The late harvest has a lot to do with delayed seeding that was held up by significant rains in early spring.
“Once you get to the start of October it becomes worrisome (if you are not finished harvesting),” Campbell said.
There is not much rain forecast for the next couple of weeks.
“If we could get two weeks of good harvest weather we would be able to do quite a bit with regards to some of the spring-seeded cereal crops and oilseeds,” Campbell said. “It would sure be nice to get the canola, wheat, oats and barley tidied up before the first of October, but it may not happen.”
Statistics Canada is estimating a 55.6 per cent increase in wheat production this year to 34.7 million tonnes across the country compared to last year, and a 38.8 per cent increase in canola to 19.1 million tonnes.
Last year, wheat production in Manitoba was down 28.9 per cent from the year before and canola was down 28.2 per cent.
Manitoba Agriculture is reporting that the canola harvest in particular has been slow to ramp up because of rain delays, high humidity and soft fields.
Manitoba’s canola farmers are at work harvesting the 2022 crop, hoping for continued good weather after the wet spring put the crops behind, said Delaney Ross Burtnack, executive director of Manitoba Canola Growers.
“We are hearing canola yields that are variable, ranging from well under average to above average depending on region and conditions,” she said.
After the late start to seeding in the spring due to poor weather, much of the Prairies has received consistent precipitation since June, a sharp contrast from 2021 when a severe drought ruined about a third of production.
Western Canadian production of principal field crops fell by more than 40 per cent in 2021 and was nearly 37 per cent below the previous five year average, according to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.
Considering what farmers went through and the date that was seeded, things don’t look too bad overall, Campbell said.
“We’re always optimistic that we’ll have an above-average crop, but knowing that we seeded in the second week of June, chances are you are not going to have a bumper crop.”
— with files from Canadian Press
Martin Cash has been writing a column and business news at the Free Press since 1989. Over those years he’s written through a number of business cycles and the rise and fall (and rise) in fortunes of many local businesses.