Weather damages canaryseed crops

Canaryseed production in Canada will most likely be down for 2012-13 because adverse weather has damaged some crops, an industry official said.

Statistics Canada estimated canaryseed production to be at 146,400 tonnes for 2012-13, but that number is expected to be lower because of damaging weather. Canadian canaryseed production totaled 102,300 tonnes in 2011.

"A significant portion of the canaryseed crop is traditionally grown in west-central Saskatchewan and they have had some very challenging conditions," said Grant McLean, crop management specialist with Saskatchewan Agriculture in Moose Jaw. "That area had a late spring, wet conditions, lots of hail and lots of flooding."

More than 90 per cent of the Canadian canaryseed crop is grown in Saskatchewan.

The quality of the canaryseed crop probably wasn’t affected by the weather, McLean said. The weather damage will only lower the quantity of canaryseed produced this year.

As of Monday (Sept. 10), the harvest of canaryseed in Saskatchewan was in its early stages, with only about 12 per cent harvested.

McLean said the harvest in the west-central region of Saskatchewan has been delayed because of rain and wet conditions. Harvest is progressing well in other regions because they have had generally good weather.

"It depends on where you are, like in the south, southwest and southeast, the harvest is moving along and we’re ahead of the five-year average," McLean said. "But, in the west-central, the northwest and northeast regions the harvest is falling behind."

Yield estimates that have been reported by producers so far are average, but he expects them to drop as the harvest progresses, McLean said.

"Canaryseed is still in that 1,000 lbs. per acre range as far as the yield estimates, but with only a small percentage of the crop actually harvested some of those numbers may be quite tentative," he said.

Since canaryseed stores very well for a long time with minimal damage or crop loss, most farmers wait to sell their crops until prices are good, McLean said.

Cash bids for canaryseed in Western Canada ranged from 21 to 24 cents per pound as of Thursday, according to data from Prairie Ag Hotwire. That price is "moderate" compared to previous years, McLean said.

"Very good prices have been in the 30 to 40 cents per pound range," he said. "Today’s prices are certainly not in the tank but when you start looking at the yields, it’s not a bumper crop."

— Terryn Shiells writes for Commodity News Service Canada, a Winnipeg company specializing in grain and commodity market reporting.

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