Western Canada farmers set fastest planting pace in a decade

Tue May 12, 2015 12:01pm EDT
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By Rod Nickel

WINNIPEG, Manitoba (Reuters) - Western Canada's farmers are sowing crops at the speediest pace in about 10 years, which bodes well for an early, large harvest this autumn.

More than half of the region's farmland is planted, compared with the usual pace of one-quarter, due to dry conditions, said Bruce Burnett, weather and crop specialist at grain marketer CWB. The last time planting was done at a similar pace was in 2005, he said.

Early seeded crops such as peas, lentils and durum are the most advanced, but spring wheat and canola plantings are also ahead of schedule in the world's No. 2 wheat exporter, Burnett said.

"It certainly has increased the probabilities of us having an early harvest, which after the quality issues last year are on everybody's mind," Burnett said. A year ago, cool, wet weather in the last week of August damaged durum wheat.

Early planting, however, poses risks.

Recent cold temperatures may damage crops that have emerged from the soil, especially canola, Burnett said.

In the biggest crop-producing province, Saskatchewan, farmers have likely planted 25 to 30 percent of their crops, ahead of the five-year average of 6 percent, said Daphne Cruise, cropping management specialist at the provincial government. Last week, 14 percent was complete. [GRO/SAS]

In southern Manitoba and southern Alberta, many farmers have completed about three-quarters of planting and are likely to finish by the weekend, said Alyssa Mistelbacher, market analyst at FarmLink Marketing Solutions. Parts of eastern Saskatchewan have been too wet to plant, she said.   Continued...

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper talks to farmers and supporters about the first day of open markets for grain farmers, at Kindersley August 1, 2012.  REUTERS/David Stobbe