Jury still out on Prairie crop damage from Victoria Day weekend

A flowering apple tree Tuesday morning in Winnipeg. (Dave Bedard photo)

CNS Canada — Cold temperatures across much of Western Canada over the May long weekend may have caused damage to early-emerging crops — but it will take a few more days to determine how many acres will need reseeding.

“We have to wait and see, because freeze damage is always sporadic in nature,” said CWB analyst Bruce Burnett in Winnipeg.

“Certainly the temperatures were cold enough to cause damage to emerged crops,” he said, noting canola was likely more susceptible to the cold than wheat at this time. Barley and oats could also be sensitive.

Canola emergence has been slow in central and northern areas of the Prairies, which likely spared those fields from any serious damage, while southern fields are farther along and Burnett expected there may need to be some partial reseeding of canola fields.

The weekend also brought rain and snow to many areas, with Manitoba seeing the most moisture. The precipitation will help moisture levels there, but Burnett said there were still some areas of Alberta and Saskatchewan that could use more moisture to help with germination.

Pam de Rocquigny, a cereal crops specialist with Manitoba’s agriculture department in Carman, said the assessment will take a few days, with “many moving pieces” to account for.

Different crop types will respond differently to the cold and wet weather, depending on their state of emergence.

From a marketing standpoint, “it’s too early to be really worried,” said canola broker Ken Ball of PI Financial in Winnipeg.

Canola futures were not showing any significant strength related to the weekend weather, he said, but noted the dryness in Alberta and Saskatchewan could become a concern.

There are wet areas also facing challenges, but he estimated they will be OK for the most part.

Phil Franz-Warkentin writes for Commodity News Service Canada, a Winnipeg company specializing in grain and commodity market reporting.

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Phil Franz-Warkentin writes for MarketsFarm specializing in grain and commodity market reporting.

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