Prairie seeding still on hold, better weather coming

Western Canada’s farmers will likely keep their tractors parked this week at a time when they’re usually seeding crops, as fields remain flooded after a stretch of cool temperatures, a Canadian Wheat Board official said.

Seeding has not started and looks 10 days to three weeks behind schedule, the same outlook as a week ago, CWB crops and weather analyst Stuart McMillan said Monday.

While the weather last week was too cool to melt remaining snow and dry fields, Western Canada received only minor amounts of precipitation during the weekend, he said.

The forecast this week for most of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba is for much warmer temperatures and only slight chances of rain or snow.

“If this forecast comes true, that’ll help really dry things up,” McMillan said. “Some fields are snow-free, but the frost is still in them and they haven’t really dried out beyond the first few centimetres (of soil).”

Much of the Prairies are soaked from snow melting on ground still saturated from last year’s rain, producing flooding in a huge area across southern Manitoba, southern and eastern Saskatchewan and southern and central Alberta.

Seeding concerns in Western Canada have supported futures contracts of Minneapolis spring wheat and ICE canola in the past week.

On Monday, Minneapolis May spring wheat rose three per cent, while the new-crop November canola contract edged higher although other months fell.

Farmers got a head start last year, but over the past 10 years, they typically have only a few percentage points of their seeding complete around this time, McMillan said.

This week, there will likely be little planting, and more widespread work is likely to start the following week, he said. South-central Manitoba farmers might get into their fields first, with seeding of peas and canola typically first.

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