Western Canada farmers scramble for canola seed to re-plant after frost

Wed Jun 3, 2015 2:30pm EDT
 
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By Rod Nickel

WINNIPEG, Manitoba, June 3 (Reuters) - Western Canadian farmers are scrambling to find scarce canola seed as they re-plant crops snuffed out by frost and insects.

Farmers have until mid- to late June to plant ahead of insurance deadlines, but the later they sow canola, the higher the risk of damage later from heat or frost. Canada is the biggest producer and exporter of canola, used to produce vegetable oil.

Western Canada's Prairies are prone to crop-damaging weather, from floods to drought, but severe frost last week arrived unusually late in spring.

"We've never seen an event like this," said Rob Schultz, vice-president of sales and commercial operations for Bayer CropScience Canada, whose InVigor brand makes up about half of Western Canada's canola seed sales. "We're trying to go as fast as we can to manage the demand."

Since last week's frost, government crop insurance corporations in Manitoba and Saskatchewan have registered 1,500 and 900 crop insurance claims respectively, mostly for canola.

For the year, Manitoba has received 2,550 claims for re-seeding covering 800,000 acres (324,000 hectares), mostly since last week, said claims manager David Van Deynze.

David Hansen, chief executive of Winnipeg-based Canterra Seeds, estimates that farmers are re-sowing 1 million acres of canola across the Prairies.

Both Bayer and rival Monsanto said they moved quickly to transfer seed inventories to short areas such as southwestern Manitoba and eastern Saskatchewan, as well as treat additional seed.   Continued...