Prairie crops seen surviving heavy rains

Localized heavy rains in Saskatchewan and western Manitoba have delayed seeding on remaining acres for various crops — but the precipitation should not have washed away any seeds.

Northeastern Saskatchewan, for instance, saw about 50 millimetres. Other numbers from Environment Canada put weekend totals in the northwest of the province at nearly 100 millimetres.

"It’s certainly handicapped individuals’ abilities to get the balance of their seeding done, particularly in portions of the east-central area of Saskatchewan," said Grant McLean, a cropping management specialist with the province’s Agriculture Knowledge Centre in Moose Jaw.

Seeding rates vary across the province, he said. In the areas without rain, almost all of the oilseed crops have been planted. But in the high-precipitation regions, pooling on fields has put seeding progress as low as 35 per cent of intended acres.

Debbie Belanger, director of communications at the Canola Council of Canada in Winnipeg, said that as long as the farmer has gotten the seed in the ground, it should be OK.

"The thing is, most of the crop’s in the ground. And stand establishment has been really good this year," Belanger said. Unless the rain continues on a regular basis, reseeding was very unlikely, she added.

There won’t be a total wipeout of the canola crop, she said, but added there is the potential for a slightly reduced yield. By how much, however, is still unclear.

McLean also didn’t speculate on the long-term effects of the rain because it all depends on weather conditions in the coming weeks.

"Traditionally we have a long season here to dry things out," he said. But some fields in Saskatchewan and western Manitoba have been so highly saturated over the past few years that "if you happen to have a freak thunderstorm drop an inch or two, it doesn’t take long for fields to start ponding when the water table is already high."

Recent cold weather has also been a concern for farmers, but neither McLean nor Belanger received any reports of frost from farmers.

As long as temperatures warm up and fields dry out, McLean said, eastern Saskatchewan and western Manitoba crops should be OK.

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