Ideal conditions in much of the country has led to a bumper canola crop and pushed the Canola Council of Canada past its 2015 goal years ahead of schedule
Canola industry officials were celebrating a milestone last week as harvest reports put this year’s production over 15 million tonnes two years ahead of their 2015 target.
Early predictions point to a record-breaking canola and wheat harvests across the country this fall, including in Manitoba. But the weather will need to hold out to get it all in the bin.
Much of that canola is still in the swath, but observers say farmers are making good progress.
“I’m still very optimistic that we’re going to get the canola off the field,” said Angela Brackenreed, a Manitoba-based agronomist with the Canola Council of Canada.
“We had about two weeks of rainy weather that wasn’t conducive to getting the crop off, and that definitely stalled things… but it looks like we’re going to have some nice weather for the rest of the week, and things are looking positive,” she said.
Anastasia Kubinec, an oilseed specialist with Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Initiatives, agrees that if the current forecasts hold, all canola should make it into the bin.
“I think the canola is all down now and once it’s in the swath — especially with the weather we had this week — things mature pretty quick,” Kubinec said.
But it will still be two or even 2-1/2 weeks before much of the canola can be picked up, she added. And Prairie weather can change quickly.
“I mean we could get snow, and bang, we’d be done — but it doesn’t look that way right now,” said the specialist.
Statistics Canada has predicted this year’s canola harvest will reach 16 million tonnes, a number that far exceeds goals set by the Canola Council of Canada and that some analysts predict will move higher.
“This is a pivotal moment in history for Canada’s canola industry,” said Saskatchewan farmer and council chairman Terry Youzwa. “Our industry in 2007 set a target of 15 million tonnes of sustainable canola production by 2015 and we have blown past that target two years early.”
August predictions had put this year’s canola harvest at 14.74 million tonnes
Wayne Palmer, senior analyst with Agri-Trend Marketing, said farmers typically underestimate the size of their crops in the Statistics Canada reports. He believes the December report will show even larger production numbers.
“It’s a great day for grains and oilseeds farmers of Canada who this year have produced an outstanding crop,” said Canola Council president Patti Miller. “Hats off to Canada‘s canola growers who broke all previous production records by a long shot… We will take this moment to celebrate, but then it’s back to the day-to-day work.”
But while both Kubinec and Brackenreed note Manitoba’s yields will be above average and higher than last year, they add that some canola producers in the province also struggled with a slow start, or lacked moisture at critical points.
“There were some hit-and-miss fields as well,” said Kubinec, adding that the area between Elm Creek and Winnipeg is seeing lower yields than other regions.
StatsCan pegged the all-wheat crop at 33.026 million tonnes, up nearly eight per cent from its August estimate of 30.6 million tonnes and slightly exceeding the average trade expectation of 32.9 million tonnes.
The crop erased the previous record high of 32.1 million tonnes set in 1990.
Crops of durum wheat, barley and oats are also significantly higher than last year, while the harvests of grain corn and soybeans are smaller.