Prairie winter wheat acres down: CWB

(Resource News International) — A delayed harvest across most areas of Western Canada this fall is seen as likely to have cut into the area seeded to winter wheat.

A Canadian Wheat Board official notes many producers were still busy with the harvest at the time they would normally be seeding winter wheat.

Bruce Burnett, head of the CWB’s weather and crop analysis department, estimated that winter wheat seedings were down by 15 to 20 per cent on the year.

He said farmers had wanted to seed winter wheat, but were unable to do so given the lateness of this year’s harvest and the fact that farmers were still busy getting their other crops off the fields.

Crop insurance deadlines for planting winter wheat had passed in most areas by mid-September, a time when much of the canola crop was still waiting to be harvested this year. Western Canadian farmers usually plant winter wheat into canola stubble.

Burnett said warm, dry weather conditions in September likely allowed some winter wheat to be seeded after crop insurance deadlines, but thought the better weather was not enough to get all of the intended acres planted.

Looking forward, Burnett thought producers would still be looking to seed winter wheat in subsequent years, provided the weather co-operates.

Farmers on Canada’s Prairies planted 1.245 million acres of winter wheat in the fall of 2008 for harvest in 2009. Of that total, 940,000 acres survived the winter, according to Statistics Canada data.

StatsCan estimated 2009-10 western Canadian winter wheat production at 1.082 million tonnes, which would compare with 1.983 million tonnes the previous year.