North Dakota, Manitoba seen leaving record-large fallow areas
By Rod Nickel
WINNIPEG, Manitoba (Reuters) - Record-large areas of cropland in North Dakota and Manitoba could go unplanted this year, government officials said on Wednesday, as flood water swamps much of the Canadian Prairies and U.S. northern Plains.
North Dakota farmers will likely leave 5 million to 5.5 million acres unplanted due to excessive moisture, said Doug Hagel, regional director for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Risk Management Agency in Billings, Montana.
The estimate is based on anecdotal accounts from USDA staff who work with farmers and a firmer estimate should be available in mid-July, Hagel said.
The current record-large unplanted area for the key growing state of wheat and canola is 3.9 million acres in 1999.
"In the last two years, we've had such heavy snowfall in the winter and then when that melts, the ground is saturated and these rains are coming through into the summer," Hagel said in an interview. "When they fall on saturated ground, it just runs off (across fields)."
Soaked farmland stretches across most areas of North Dakota, snatching acres from corn and soybeans in the east and from spring wheat, durum and barley in the west, he said.
MANITOBA SEES 3 MLN UNPLANTED ACRES
Manitoba Agriculture Minister Stan Struthers, who toured flooded farms in the western Canadian province this week, said he expects farmers to leave 3 million acres unplanted, more than double the previous record. Continued...