Late spring weather projection impact grain markets

Farmers across much of North America are waiting for a spring season that seems slow to arrive. And while it is perhaps still too soon to be overly concerned about spring seeding delays, Mother Nature has many believing it may be some time before temperatures warm.

Ag markets are drawing strength from potentially smaller than expected 2018 U.S. planted corn/soybean acreage and overall late North American planting worries.

There are a multitude of issues affecting grain markets at the present time, among them being this week’s round of monthly supply/demand reports from the United States Department of Agriculture, released April 10; evolving international trade talks and the debate over 2018 acreage prospects.

Lately, agriculture markets are drawing price strength from the prospect of potentially smaller than expected 2018 U.S. planted corn/soybean acreage and worries about an overall late North American planting.

Lingering cold

This spring's colder than expected temperatures further damage U.S. hard red winter wheat prospects following a very dry fall/winter season. Cold temperatures linger across the Midwest, up into the northern states and here into Canada, interrupted by only brief warming.

Western Canada weather conditions look more like February than April, with cooler than normal conditions and the ground still covered with snow suggests a late start to spring seeding this year. There is already market talk of acreage switching to alternative crops and/or shifting canola acres to shorter season varieties.

Minneapolis spring wheat futures rebounded sharply in recent trading sessions. Intended U.S. 2018 spring wheat acres are forecast by USDA at 12.6 million acres (11 million last year), but that number may now be trimmed. Canadian spring wheat acres should be about 16.5 million acres.

No need for alarm

Delayed planting is an emerging concern, but with all of May still ahead to get seed into the ground, there's no need to be alarmed just yet. Still, how long it takes for the ground to adequately warm up to germinate seed after the snow is finally gone is a matter of debate.

The Canadian Prairies may finally see a break from its Arctic connection this week, with air forecast to come from the west rather than from the north. But forecasters predict it will be a gradual shift to warmer temperatures through the remainder of April and into May, with near to slightly below normal temperatures all through mid-month and near-normal towards the end.

Rain forecast

For precipitation, there's variation as you move west to east on the Prairies. AccuWeather predicts above normal rain or snow across western parts of Alberta up into the mountains.

Moving to eastern areas of Alberta and through Saskatchewan, a trend towards drier than normal conditions is forecasted to develop into the spring. Dryness may become a concern once again later into the summer as the southern Prairies contend with depleted subsoil moisture conditions from last year.

For the time being though, with winter weather that has extended into the beginning half of April across much of Canada and the northern U.S., farmers are facing the prospect of a later start to general fieldwork and seeding this spring.

Bottom line

The prospect of a later spring means has some producers looking at crops with shorter growing seasons.

Mike Jubinville of Pro Farmer Canada offers information on commodity markets and marketing strategies. Call 204-654-4290 or visit to find out more about his services.