Prairies make progress in seeding, some areas still significantly behind
By Top Crop Manager
Conditions both wet and dry have plagued Prairie producers. In Manitoba, growers have struggled to find optimal seeding conditions due to excess moisture, which is also creating equipment challenges. Saskatchewan has similarly struggled with heavy precipitation, although it has been welcome in some regions. To the west, Alberta has struggled with dry conditions. However, all three provinces have made notable progress in their seeding according to the latest provincial crop reports.
Manitoba has made some big progress in its seeding in the past week – seeding is now at 40 per cent completion for the week ending May 31, up from 10 per cent the previous week. However, the historic five-year average for this period is 91 per cent, meaning although producers have worked hard to catch up, there is still plenty of work to be done. Additionally, some crops and areas have already entered their extended seeding period, which ends June 4. Select crops in specific regions planted during this period will still be eligible for coverage under AgriInsurance, but not for full coverage.
For Manitoba, the main factor that has led to slow seeding and high variance across regions is moisture. Heavy rainfall in the early period of seeding has led to moist and slow-draining soils. There was substantial rainfall again this past week in the southwest and northwest regions, followed by a Colorado Low system with thunderstorms and strong winds in the central, Interlake and eastern regions. On top of creating suboptimal seeding environments, these conditions have reportedly caused some vehicles to stall or become stuck. Farm operators have been forced to work very long hours, or overnight for 24 hour periods in an effort to seed crops while conditions permit. Larger farms tend to be slightly further ahead in planting progress than smaller operations. Farmers have prioritized corn, sunflowers, field peas, soybeans and potatoes during the most recent week and are now refocused on spring wheat, oats and canola. The crop report estimates that farmers are unlikely to meet their deadlines for full coverage on corn and soybeans.
For cereals, earliest planted spring wheat, oat and barley fields are now emerging to the two-leaf stage. Winter cereal crops have begun to joint and have canopy row closure, with a few crops showing signs of nitrogen deficiency. Farmers are also growing slightly more oats than in previous years, preferring the crop over barley for its higher tolerance to wet soils. Additionally, some farmers are also switching out their remaining unplanted corn in favour of canola, and silage corn growers are considering planting more greened cereal crops as a replacement. There could be a reduction of 10 to 40 per cent in grain corn acres across all regions as a result. | READ MORE
Like its neighbour to the east, Saskatchewan has seen significant seeding progress this past week despite the challenges posed by heavy precipitation, including snow in some parts of the province. More than half of the 2022 crop is now seeded (52 per cent) as of the period ending May 23, up form 33 per cent the week before. This is still behind the five-year average of 78 per cent for the same period – and this time one year ago, planting was at 88 per cent completion.
The west central region is the farthest along, with 81 per cent of its crop seeded. The northwest is not far behind with 73 per cent seeded. The southeast is at 44 per cent, northeast at 22 per cent and east central at 21 per cent. The east has experienced a double-edged sword with significant precipitation. While the most recent crop reports described the rain as “welcome” and noting improved soil moisture conditions with some areas reporting as much as 88 mm of precipitation, producers are nevertheless eager to continue seeding operations. Cropland topsoil moisture is rated as 15 per cent surplus, 58 per cent adequate, 18 per cent short and nine per cent very short. Hay and pasture land topsoil moisture is rated as six per cent surplus, 63 per cent adequate, 20 per cent short and 11 per cent very short.
In areas with sufficient moisture, earlier seeded crops have begun to emerge. However, cool weather over the past week has slowed development of some crops. Most of the province’s crops are rated as “normal” for their development with the exception of canola, which was rated as 67 per cent behind, likely due to the very dry conditions in the southwest and west central regions.
Another factor challenging producers is a shortage of farm equipment parts, as well as input and herbicide shortages. |READ MORE
Alberta’s major crops are now almost on track with its five-year averages. For the week ending May 24, the province reports major crops at 73.4 per cent completed, up significantly from 45.8 per cent the week before and close to the five-year average of 77.3 per cent. Dry peas and spring wheat are the farthest along in the province at 85.2 per cent and 82.9 per cent respectively. Both crops’ progress is driven most significantly in the south, central and northeast regions.
Nevertheless, Alberta faces some challenges related to dry conditions. Precipitation over the week was highly variable and did not provide as much moisture as needed for some dry areas across the provinces. Most areas in the southern half of Alberta received less than 10 mm of moisture, with some receiving less than 5 mm. Growing season precipitation to date was less than 40 mm in most parts of the south, central and northeast regions. The need for moisture in the south region is rated as acute. Currently, no areas in the province are rated as having excess moisture, and only 49 per cent of regions are rated as “good” or “excellent.”
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