Wetness to push Manitoba unplanted acres to record

Mon Jun 13, 2011 12:18pm EDT
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By Rod Nickel

WINNIPEG, Manitoba (Reuters) - Unplanted crop acres in the western Canadian province of Manitoba will likely reach a record high this year due to excessive wetness, a provincial government official told Reuters on Monday.

The province is working to calculate an estimate, and it appears Manitoba will exceed the record of nearly 1.4 million unplanted acres set in 2005, said David Koroscil, manager of insurance projects and sales for the Manitoba Agricultural Services Corp.

Manitoba farmers will likely beat the record handily and leave more than 4 million acres, or 40 percent of cropland, unplanted, said Doug Chorney, president of the province's biggest farm group, Keystone Agricultural Producers.

"I do know many farmers in southwestern Manitoba, big farmers, who haven't seeded an acre. Nothing's changed there--they're still wet."

Flooding from rivers and at least four major rain storms this spring have swamped large stretches of southern Manitoba, especially the southwest corner, where farmers usually grow a significant amount of wheat and canola.

Manitoba's fallow acres are likely to mainly trim plantings of later-seeded crops such as canola, edible beans and sunflowers, Chorney said.

Farmers took extreme measures to plant crops over the weekend, including using airplanes to spread seed where tractors can't drive.

Insurance deadlines in Manitoba for seeding crops fall between June 10 and 20.

Canada is the world's biggest shipper of spring wheat, oats and canola.

(Reporting by Rod Nickel; Editing by Carole Vaporean and Lisa Shumaker)