By Top Crop Manager
May 3, 2011 - Concerns surrounding pricing, planting and seeding, along with weed and crop management can all be boiled down to just one word: weather.
May 3, 2011 -When it comes to expressing concerns about conditions and commodity prices, there is really only one word that applies: weather. It’s the word that underscores meetings of extension personnel and crop advisors, it is at the root of where commodity prices are likely to head and there seems to be little hope of escaping its effect in the short- or long-term outlooks from Environment Canada.
Tuesday’s meeting of Ontario ministry personnel and certified crop advisors in the town of Exeter provided several points of interest for growers. For starters, weed concerns are not pressing, only because the cool, wet conditions this spring are hampering weed development, with the exception being dandelions. In southern Ontario, there’s been very little nitrogen applied on wheat and despite concerns voiced by some growers about switching to earlier-season corn hybrids, the consensus among CCAs was to hold off until the middle of May, at the earliest. To date, there has been very little corn planted and few, if any, soybean fields that have been planted, as well. However, ministry personnel emphasized that yield comes from growth after planting, not just because of early planting. One other concern voiced at the meeting is that there’s an increasing sense of urgency regarding manure tanks reaching capacity. Again, the wet and cool conditions have left growers with very limited windows to get their manure applied, so there were some suggestions about spreading either before or after corn planting, both of which carried a number of specific considerations; before planting requires advanced planning, and after planting, there’s more of a concern about compaction.
In the West, there have been scattered reports about seeding conditions. One farmer from southwestern Saskatchewan reported that sandier soils are "ready to go" while some locations received snow late last week, pushing the likelihood of any seeding operations even further behind.
On the markets, short-term pricing is in something of a recovery from a drop late last week, although the trend seems to be downward for now, especially old crop. Longer-term, and relating more to planting difficulties in the US Midwest, new crop prices for corn are likely to show upwards movement, with December deliveries up seven cents. Wheat and soybeans, however, were trending down, with November soys at nine-and-a-half cents down to $14.64 1/4. And in spite of difficulties in the wheat markets, the trend is continuing down due to noncommercial selling. In western Canadian commodities, the word for canola is "up!" The price for May delivery jumped $5.00 per tonne to $566.50, with July, November, January, and everything after that all running higher. Western barley, no matter the month, remained unchanged, with May deliveries at $200.
And finally, Environment Canada's forecasts are blunting the hopes of producers across the country. The agency’s 30-day outlook calls for continued cool temperatures for the southern Prairies, along the northern shore of Lake Superior and most of southern Ontario. The only place where the short-term outlook calls for warmer conditions is across most of Quebec, excluding the Eastern townships. In the 90-day outlook, all of Quebec, including the Eastern townships, the northwestern corner of New Brunswick and the far northern tier of Saskatchewan and Alberta, are expected to be warmer than normal. Most of the southern half of Alberta is expected to be cooler while the rest of the agricultural regions across Canada are forecast to see normal temperature conditions. As for the precipitation outlook for the next 90 days, there is a large swath of the Prairies, including the Red River Valley, central and the extreme southeastern corner of Saskatchewan and most of central Alberta, including the Peace River district, that are forecast to see higher-than-normal rainfall. Quebec’s Eastern townships, both sides of the St. Lawrence, along with all of New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island, are supposed to see precipitation levels above the norm. The Niagara peninsula and the very southeastern corner of Alberta will see lower-than-normal moisture levels.