Prairie crop quality more encouraging than yields

As the Canadian Prairie harvest gets closer to completion, signs are pointing to reduced yields but good or better crop quality.

Alberta

“Provincially, crop yields are down 10 to 20 per cent from last year, and five to 10 per cent from their five-year averages,” says Agriculture Financial Services Corporation risk analyst James Wright.

Hot, dry weather impacted south and central areas, while late seeding and too much rain affected the northwest, he says.

Areas experiencing dry conditions had many expecting poorer quality crops, due principally to light-weight grain, but quality is surprisingly good.

“I think it’s a combination of the plant itself restricting kernel development in difficult times, and farmers using production methods which conserve moisture such that it is available for use by the plant,” says Wright.

Harvest delays, however, will likely downgrade the crops remaining in fields, Alberta Agriculture says.

Also negatively impacting both yield and quality is recent frosts.

“Most crops were well along and damage will be limited to grade loss, but I’m anticipating some crops seeded late this spring will be caught as immature and will incur some yield loss,” says Wright.

Saskatchewan

Saskatchewan is experiencing similar crop yield and quality dynamics.

“Quality is the best we've had for years,” says provincial cropping management specialist Shannon Friesen. The same can’t be said for yields. “All crops have been affected by the lack of moisture in southern and central areas.”

Lentils came off before the rain fell and disease like fusarium was minimal. There are, however, lower protein content and lighter bushel weights in cereal crops, and northern Saskatchewan has reported some sprouting and bleaching in cereals due to heavy rains, Friesen adds.

Manitoba

Both yields and quality are good for Manitoba cereals and canola, says provincial crop specialist Anne Kirk.

“Compared to the five-year average, yields would be considered a good growing year for Manitoba farmers for spring cereals and canola,” Kirk says.

Yields have ranged from 55 to 100 bushels per acre for spring wheat; 110 to 180 bushels per acre for oats; 75 to 120 bushels per acre for barley; and 30 to 65 bushels per acre for canola.

Average soybean yields for the central, eastern and south Interlake regions of the province ranged from 20 to 45 bushels per acre.

Bottom line

Prairie 2017 crop quality looks good so far, but hot, dry conditions in Saskatchewan and Alberta has depressed yields.

Article by: Richard Kamchen