Canola to get early test as Prairies brace for frost

CNS Canada — Overnight lows of -2 or -3 C are expected across much of Saskatchewan by Wednesday or Thursday, according to Environment Canada forecasts.

The colder temperatures are expected to make their way into Manitoba by Friday.

That could put some stress on canola plants that have already emerged, according to industry watchers.

“As we found out last year, frost, once a crop has emerged, is an issue,” noted Bruce Burnett, weather and crop specialist at G3 Canada.

A general rule of thumb is that temps of -2 C or lower for two hours can be a vulnerable time for the plant, depending on the topography.

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Fortunately, he said, some rain is expected this week as well.

“So that will help out a little bit in terms of decreasing some of the frost rate at the plant level,” he said.

Soil moisture is another factor to be taken into consideration in terms of crop vulnerability. For instance, canola may be more exposed than wheat and durum.

Wheat and durum, he said, “were planted deeper than some other crops due to the dry conditions in other regions.”

While the lows aren’t expected to be in place for long, the fact they’re expected does throw an element of caution into the air.

“Definitely it’s a threat,” Burnett said.

Dave Sims writes for Commodity News Service Canada, a Winnipeg company specializing in grain and commodity market reporting.

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