August 29, 2011 / 8:30 PM / 6 years ago

Western Canada harvest 14 percent complete, slightly behind

<p>The Sawyer family harvests their crop of wheat with combines near Acme, Alberta, September 23, 2009. REUTERS/Todd Korol</p>

WINNIPEG, Manitoba (Reuters) - The harvest of all crops on the Canadian Prairies rose to 14 percent complete in the past week from 7 percent, due to favorable warm, dry weather, but progress remains slightly behind schedule, the Canadian Wheat Board said on Monday.

The harvest is normally 17 percent finished at this time of year, the Wheat Board said.

Late planting and cool spring weather delayed plant development, but a hot, dry summer has helped crops nearly catch up.

The harvest is ahead of the normal pace in Manitoba, where 29 percent is complete compared with the norm of 24 percent, the CWB said.

Progress is close to normal in Saskatchewan at 14 percent complete versus the norm of 15 percent, while Alberta is behind normal progress with 9 percent in the bin compared with the normal 17 percent.

Farmers are trying to harvest crops before by mid September, when the first widespread frost usually arrives. Only some pockets of northern Alberta received frost last week, the board said.

SPRING WHEAT YIELDS HIGHER, CANOLA LOWER

Statistics Canada forecast on Wednesday higher Western Canada yields for spring wheat, barley and oats, but lower yields for durum and canola.

The lowest canola yields look to be in Manitoba, the eastern Prairie province that faced severe flooding followed by heat and extremely dry conditions this year.

Statscan pegged Manitoba’s canola yield at an average 29.1 bushels per acre, but field reports range widely from 10 to 50 bushels per acre, said Derwyn Hammond, resource manager for the Canola Council of Canada.

“Sounds like a fair amount could be coming in slightly below our five-year average in the 34-, 35-bushel range,” Hammond said. “It’s really early to get a good handle on it.”

Some early-seeded canola was in its vulnerable flowering stage during intense heat, lowering yields, while some of the later crop has suffered stress from drought, he said.

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