Western Canada crops bask in warm, humid weather

Tue Jul 5, 2011 12:25pm EDT
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By Rod Nickel

WINNIPEG, Manitoba (Reuters) - Warm, humid weather with occasional rain showers are creating greenhouse conditions for Canada's grains and canola, giving late-developing crops a much-needed chance to catch up.

Flooding in the southern Prairies, which has dragged out to nearly three months in southeastern Saskatchewan and southwestern Manitoba, left an estimated 6 million to 8 million acres unplanted this year, while earlier cool, wet conditions delayed plant growth by two to three weeks.

"In general, the crops are looking quite good where they got seeded," said Grant McLean, cropping management specialist for the Saskatchewan government. "If it doesn't get too hot, it's pretty ideal growing conditions."

Most of the Prairies received less than 40 percent of normal precipitation for the week ended July 3, according to Agriculture Canada's Drought Watch site (PDF of map: r.reuters.com/xug52s)

In a normal year that might be a concern, but the Prairies are well-watered after collecting much more rain than normal in nearly all areas during the past 60 days.

Canada is the biggest shipper of spring wheat and durum, but there are concerns about small plantings and poor quality potential for both due to flooding.

Late development could leave crops vulnerable to frost damage in early September that would downgrade quality.

In contrast to the soggy southern Prairies, central and northern growing areas of Saskatchewan may see above-average yields for all crops, McLean said.   Continued...