Given the late start to planting this spring, there remains a lot of canola in fields across the Prairies.
Manitoba Agriculture on Sept. 8 reported canola in the province was 22 per cent combined, up from seven per cent the previous week, but the three-year average is 57 per cent complete. Yields were said to range from 25 to 60 bushels an acre, depending on the area.
Saskatchewan Agriculture reported on Sept. 10 that the canola harvest there reached 23 per cent complete, up from 11 per cent the week prior. Yields across the province averaged 35 bu./ac. The department said 37 per cent of canola was swathed, with 12 per cent ready to be straight combined and 28 per cent still standing.
Alberta’s weekly crop report had yet to be issued at the time of writing, but the most recent data put the canola harvest at just under one per cent finished. It’s safe to assume good progress has been made since then.
Regardless, about three-quarters of Prairie canola has yet to be harvested. A good portion has been swathed or was ready to be straight cut, with more not quite yet at that point. That has left the crop vulnerable to frost, as the Prairies experienced back-to-back nights earlier in the week. The extent of frost damage has yet to be fully determined, but concern regarding lost quality was certainly a factor in trading for the week.
Prior to the frost, canola suffered damage from strong winds, especially in Manitoba. There were reports of swaths being flipped over or rolled up, along with pods shattered. Before that, extended dry conditions across the Prairies put a crimp into projected yields.
This all contributed to price volatility. Prices at the beginning of the shortened trading week shot up, then retreated when Chicago soyoil and a stronger Canadian dollar flexed their muscles. To spur farmer selling, crushers and elevators began to push up prices to get things rolling, which erased much of those losses.
Since the arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou in December 2018, canola hasn’t seen much of the $500 range. Given canola exports to China this year stand at about 60 per cent of when Meng was picked up by the authorities, it’s nice to see the oilseed regain lost ground.