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Soybeans hot, flax is not for 2013

Expect to see a lot more soybeans and corn planted in Manitoba next spring and a lot less flax and barley, seed growers said during their annual “what’s hot, what’s not” session last month.

Hard red spring and general purpose wheat are expected to be popular too, growers told the Manitoba Seed Grower Association’s annual meeting Dec. 6.

“On the cold side we consider flax and barley to be almost dying out,” said Wawanesa seed grower Warren Ellis.

“Barley again for the third year in a row had poor yields and poor performance in different weather and growing conditions. Flax, of course the lack of markets is definitely going to affect the uptake by the customer base and in general a lack of price movement in oats is just not appealing to farmers at this point so there’s not much activity.”

Ellis warned warmer-than-normal growing seasons won’t last forever and that could hurt farmers planting more grain corn and soybeans — both heat-loving crops.

“Certainly in eastern Manitoba soybeans will be up and canola will be down and corn will continue to increase quite substantially,” said Domain seed grower Bob Wiens. “We’re seeing a major shift in what’s happening in our acreage.”

Farmers are increasing their plantings of “specialty oil” canola and planting fewer acres of Invigor Hybrids, said Marc Durand, a seed grower from Notre Dame de Lourdes.

There’s also uncertainty about the winter wheat seeded into bone-dry soil last fall and what crops will be reseeded in fields that don’t survive the winter.

Corn and soybeans are gaining acres in western Manitoba too. Soybeans are attracting a lot of interest because they performed well during wet conditions several years ago as well as under last year’s heat, said Oak River seed grower Eric McLean.

“And now that they have low heat unit (soybean) varieties the west is more or less the new expansion area,” he added.

Ellis warned the jump in corn and soybean acres could backfire given one of these years will be cooler than normal.

Statistics Canada estimates Manitoba farmers seeded a record 300,000 acres of grain corn in 2012, up 71 per cent from 2011 and 54 per cent higher than the previous record of 194,966 acres set in 2007.

They also planted a record 800,000 acres of soybeans in 2012, up 40 per cent from 2011 when the previous record — 570,000 acres — was set.

Soybeans plantings this spring could exceed one million acres, some industry observers predict.

Soybean and corn seed supplies could be tight this spring, seed growers said. There are also reports that the hot weather reduced the germination of some soybean seed, Ellis said.

“Peas will also be in short supply,” Durand said.

McLean described farmer interest in peas as between hot and cold. It’s a crop farmers can make money with, but many don’t necessarily want to grow it, he said.

“In general the hard red spring wheats are moving quite well across most of Manitoba right now and demand and interest are high,” he said.

Potentially high-yielding “general purpose” wheats, such as Pasteur, are hot in the Red River Valley, McLean said.

The Canada Western General Purpose wheat class is the only western spring wheat class that doesn’t require new varieties to meet specific end-use quality standards. It was established several years ago to serve the livestock feed and ethanol markets.

However, Pasteur, a European milling wheat distributed by SeCan, is capable of producing wheat that can be blended with other wheats for milling.

Some Manitoba-grown Pasteur was sold to domestic millers in 2012, Todd Hyra, SeCan’s Western Canada business manager, said in an interview Dec. 19.

Pasteur produces 2.0 to 2.5 less protein than wheats in the Canadian Western Red Spring wheat class, but since the 2012 spring milling wheat crop is high in protein there’s a market for lower-protein wheat this year. However, Hyra cautioned there’s no guarantee Pasteur will be of interest to millers every year. Millers say Pasteur’s flour yield is lower than some other wheats, but in a blend makes good bread.

“The overall disease package (for Pasteur) is very well suited to Canadian growing conditions,” Hyra said, noting that the variety is rated “fair” for fusarium head blight resistance and has low accumulation of DON (deoxynivalenol) — the toxin sometimes created by head blight.

According to SeCan during registration trials Pasteur yielded 2.9 per cent more than AC Andrew, another high-yielding general purpose wheat.

Pasteur is also less susceptible to lodging than AC Andrew. However, Pasteur is three days later to mature and susceptible to common bunt and loose smut.

About the author

Reporter

Allan Dawson

Allan Dawson is a reporter with the Manitoba Co-operator based near Miami, Man. Covering agriculture since 1980, Dawson has spent most of his career with the Co-operator except for several years with Farmers’ Independent Weekly and before that a Morden-Winkler area radio station.

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