May 31, 2010 / 7:33 PM / in 8 years

Heavy weekend rain stalls Canada planting

WINNIPEG, Manitoba (Reuters) - As much as 110 mm (4.3 inches) of rain swamped southern Manitoba over the weekend, the most destructive crop weather in the province in years, raising concerns about widespread reseeding near the traditional end of Canada’s planting season.

Planting had been more advanced in Manitoba than in wetter parts of the Canadian Prairies, but the rain left many fields under water, raised river levels and flooded many urban homes as drainage systems became overloaded.

Between 5 and 10 percent of Manitoba’s cropland was not seeded before the weekend, leaving farmers and others with ruined acres to hope for warm, dry weather so they can plant before June 20 -- the insurance deadline for crops to be seeded.

The wettest areas will need at least seven to 10 days to dry out, said Craig Thomson, vice-president of Manitoba Agricultural Services Corp, the government crop insurance agency.

“If we get more rain, I would say it’ll be quite a panic to get reseeded,” he said.

Canada is the world’s No. 6 wheat producer and third-largest grower of canola/rapeseed.

The rains were Manitoba’s most destructive weather event for crops in at least five years, said farmer Ian Wishart.

“We’re going to have drown-outs (and) we may have time for some reseeding, but the season is progressing pretty quick and the amount of time for reseeding will be pretty questionable I think,” said Wishart, who is president of Manitoba’s Keystone Agricultural Producers.

Friday to Saturday rains totaled 63 mm (2.5 inches) at Brandon in western Manitoba, 82.6 mm (3.3 inches) in the provincial capital of Winnipeg and a record 110.4 mm near the Canada-U.S. border at Emerson, Environment Canada meteorologist Sandy Massey said. Most of the rain fell in south-central Manitoba, where farmers grow a wide variety of grains and oilseeds.

It’s too early to estimate how many acres are under water, said Bruce Burnett, director of weather and market analysis for the Canadian Wheat Board.

“It’s probably going to be fairly substantial,” he said.

Western Canada’s seeding progress is stuck at 70 percent done, compared to the five-year average of more than 90 percent complete at this date, Burnett said. It’s unlikely much seeding on the Prairies will get done until next weekend due to excessive moisture, he said.

Environment Canada’s forecast calls for more rain on Monday and later in the week in southern Manitoba and Saskatchewan.

In Saskatchewan, the country’s top growing province, rain was relatively light but added to already saturated soils that have left planting progress well behind schedule.

Some Alberta farms in the Calgary area also received 9 centimeters (3.5 inches) of snow on the weekend.

The planting delays look to be supportive for ICE canola futures once details of flooded acres become available, traders said. Canola futures ended down on Monday.

Western Canadian farmers are forecast to see a big drop in net income this year but were hoping for large crops to offset some of the decline, Wishart said.

Editing by Peter Galloway; Editing by Frank McGurty

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