Rain too late to bring back yields: CWB crop tour

Eastern Saskatchewan — no recovery seen
By Jade Markus, Commodity News Service Canada

Grenfell, Sask. — As the CWB crop tour sees an increasing number of wheat fields suffering from dryness earlier this season, it brings the question: will rain help?

According to farmers, the answer is likely “no.”

Fields of wheat in the south eastern part of Saskatchewan were thin on July 22, with kernel counts coming in between 19 and 34 — the lowest seen on the tour that started in Manitoba so far.

“It’s pretty thin, if the rows were running the other direction, you’d be able to see right down,” said Bill Altenhofen, a tour participant.

While a rain likely can’t bring crops up to a better yield at this point, it could reduce the damage seen on fields.

“It’s not going to make it better, but it’ll stop it from getting worse,” said Chuck Fossay, a farmer and tour participant.

Fields in southeastern Saskatchewan had shot-blade leaves turning brown prematurely, which impacts the health of the crop.

Signs of leaf stripe or rust could also be seen on the plants.

Fossay said rain may stop the crops from shrivelling even more. It might also help tillers, which are the side shoots making up a secondary plant. Tillers can make up a decent part of yield, farmers say.
Because the crops are so far along and most fields are finished flowering they will likely stay at the condition they are in.

The CWB crop tour is moving toward Yorkton, Sask. with concurrent tours in Alberta and other parts of Saskatchewan. All three groups will be meeting in Regina on Friday to discuss agriculture in Western Canada.

Alberta and Western Saskatchewan — rain this week helped 

By Rod Nickel, Reuters

Aneroid, Sask. — Potential yields of spring wheat and durum are down across much of the Canadian Prairies after some of the driest conditions in decades, scouts noted on the annual CWB Market Research Services crop tour.

Parts of Alberta and Saskatchewan received less than 40 per cent of normal rainfall during May and June, raising concerns about canola and durum supplies, as Canada is the biggest exporter of both.

In northeastern Alberta, scouts measured spring wheat yields of 40.3 bushels per acre on average, down about 20 per cent from a year ago, said CWB weather and crop specialist Bruce Burnett in a report late Wednesday. Canola, which is harder to estimate when it is flowering, showed signs of poor germination.

In southern Alberta, durum yields measured about three-quarters of last year’s counts, while yields from Medicine Hat, Alberta into southwestern Saskatchewan looked 13 per cent less than a year ago.

Rain earlier this week in central Alberta should boost wheat yields somewhat, and extend canola’s yield-determining flowering period, Burnett said.

On Thursday, scouts in southern Saskatchewan saw more tell-tale signs of dryness — thin fields of durum that produced smaller than usual heads.

Canola was filling pods and stood shorter and thinner than normal.

Temperatures were cool, however, and recent rains may also help to nudge crop yields higher, said Justin Daniels, director of commodity risk management at CWB.

“The ground isn’t dusty dry and the weather isn’t hot, so the plants have a good chance to fill the kernels they do have,” he said.

Last year, however, the same fields looked “beautiful, tall and thick,” he said.

There are exceptions to the trend of falling yields. In western Manitoba and eastern Saskatchewan, a region soaked with too much rain a year ago, spring wheat yields averaged 42 bushels per acre, up two bushels from 2014.

Earlier this week, scouts noted spring wheat and canola yields in central Saskatchewan that were in line with a year ago, while southern Manitoba spring wheat yields may set a record high after ample rains.

The tour’s three routes converge on Regina, Saskatchewan late on Thursday. CWB will release Western Canada yield estimates for spring wheat, durum and canola on Friday.

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