May 10, 2010 / 3:57 PM / in 8 years

Canada planting slips back but rain seen helpful

WINNIPEG, Manitoba (Reuters) - Rain across the Canadian Prairies in the past two weeks should give most crops a good start, although it has dropped planting progress from ahead of schedule to slightly late, a Canadian Wheat Board official said on Monday.

Farmers have made little planting progress in the past week because of rain, raising overall crop-seeding to about 18 percent complete from 15 percent a week earlier, said Wheat Board crop and weather analyst Stuart McMillan. Farmers had completed 20 percent a year earlier, he said.

“This (delay) hasn’t reached a point of concern,” he said.

In early spring, dryness concerns stretched from the Peace region in British Columbia and Alberta through central Alberta and into Saskatchewan. Only the Peace region, which mainly grows cereals, seems to have missed recent rains and remains a major concern for its lack of soil moisture, McMillan said.

There’s still lots of time to plant, said Mike Jubinville, president of ProFarmer Canada.

“If this (rain delay) continues, it becomes more and more of an issue but today, May 10, I would still view this as net beneficial.”

The week looks mostly dry and warm in Saskatchewan and Alberta, but rainy early in the week in Manitoba, according to Environment Canada’s forecast

“You string together three nice days, we will get a ton of crop in the ground,” Jubinville said.

Freezing temperatures some nights appear to have caused only minor damage to plants that had already emerged, McMillan said.

Canadian farmers typically plant cereals before canola, but the planting delay may mean farmers plant canola acres first when they get back in their fields, McMillan said.

“If it’s a crop one’s figuring to have the best returns off of, it becomes the first priority,” he said.

Reporting by Rod Nickel; Editing by Lisa Shumaker

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