Cool temperatures combined with wetter-than-normal weather have caused some concern about seeding delays in Western Canada, but industry participants aren’t pushing the panic button yet.
“Right now seeding operations in Western Canada are looking as though they are one week behind,” Mike Jubinville, an analyst with the farmer advisory service ProFarmer Canada said.
He indicated most of the delay has been tied to the colder-than-normal temperatures for this time of year which in turn have delayed the removal of the frost from the Prairie soils.
Wetter-than-normal conditions in a number of regions in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba were also expected to cause some delays in getting planting underway this spring, Jubinville said.
The start of seeding across Western Canada is extremely dependent on the region, said Bruce Burnett, director of the weather and crop surveillance unit at the Canadian Wheat Board.
He indicated that producers in southern Alberta and southwestern Saskatchewan generally like to start their planting operations by the end of April. Producers in other parts of Western Canada generally want to be out planting crops between May 10 and May 25.
“Planting after May 25 will cause some concern and could result in the switching to shorter-season crops,” Burnett said.
“Conditions for seeding will need to be optimal if producers are to avoid getting too far behind in their seeding,” Jubinville said, noting that producers planning on planting canola would like to be in their fields by the first week of May.
“Right now conditions are too wet as well as too cold,” Jubinville said.
Burnett said the temperatures across the Canadian Prairies were expected to start warming up by the weekend according to updated weather outlooks.
“The readings are expected to get to the double-digit Celsius levels across a good portion of Western Canada,” Burnett said. There will also be a need for those temperatures to remain warm in order for the soils to get to a reading which will allow the seed to germinate, he said.
Temperatures have hit the 20C level in some parts of Alberta, which has helped. But it will take another solid week of those kind of readings in order to get the frost out of the ground.
Burnett said that while there are no areas that are suffering from extreme dryness yet, there were some long-term concerns for areas located in west-central Saskatchewan and east-central Alberta.
Those areas were dry heading into the winter freeze-up and did not receive a lot of snow cover during the winter. As a result there was little in the way of any spring run-off. Because of that there were some concerns about the lack of moisture in those areas based on a longer-term outlook,” Burnett said.
Jubinville noted that with today’s equipment, producers are not panicking. “With the equipment and technology available, producers can put a crop in the ground in a span of two to three days if need be,” he said, noting that 30 years ago it might have been a big deal.
Jubinville also noted that there is high flexibility when the crops need to get in, and if there are problems, there are other types of crops that can been seeded that have shorter growing seasons and higher tolerance to frost in the fall time.