Bayer postpones plant opening to meet canola seed demand

(CropScience.Bayer.ca)

Frost, wind, moisture and even flea beetles have already devastated Prairie canola crops this season, leading to unprecedented reseeding — and seed companies are struggling to meet the extra demand.

Bayer CropScience announced Thursday it will postpone Friday’s scheduled grand opening of its new Lethbridge, Alta. seed processing plant, so staff can focus on meeting demand for seed.

Bayer’s other seed processing facilities are operating at full capacity, the company said, producing thousands of bags of Invigor hybrid canola.

Blaine Woycheshin, Bayer’s manager of InVigor Seed, said there will be “over a million-plus acres” reseeded this season.

Frost is, by far, the biggest culprit, “predominantly in Manitoba and Saskatchewan, and a small plot around Vermillion (Alta.).”

Statistics Canada’s March seeding intentions report projected 19.2 million acres of canola seeded across Canada.

While there have been significant acres reseeded in smaller areas in the past, Woycheshin said this amount of reseeding across such large areas is unprecedented. “I don’t remember a situation of this magnitude.”

Much of the reseeded canola will be going into the ground later than the optimal seeding dates, but Woycheshin said that, if there is good moisture, this shouldn’t cause major issues.

“We focused on some earlier-maturing hybrids,” he said. “It’ll do its best to catch up.”

Some frustrated farmers may have trouble finding canola seed this late in the season, Woycheshin said, but added “we’re trying our best.”

Bayer maintains strategic carryover inventory in case of situations like this, he said.

“We brought back crews that we had let go,” he said, and those crews are busy treating and bagging more canola seed for distribution.

“It’s pretty tough to get that volume of seed out and look after every customer.”

Leeann Minogue is editor of Grainews at Griffin, Sask. Follow her on Twitter at @GrainMuse.

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