Saskatchewan wheat crop enters crucial phase

CNS Canada –– Freezing temperatures are raising tensions for wheat growers in Saskatchewan as this year’s crop looks to survive a late blast of winter weather.

The mercury dipped below 0 C in Saskatchewan on Thursday morning and Friday morning. Speaking Thursday afternoon, a regional crop specialist with the Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture, Shannon Friesen, said many of the coldest temperatures were expected in areas where the wheat was still somewhat protected.

“The good news is that colder temps seem to be in the north and west, where not a lot of the crop has actually emerged,” she explained.

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The next two to three weeks will be critical, said Friesen, as the wheat crop seeks to shrug off frost and other pressures in a bid to establish itself.

“We’re not hearing too many reports of insects, disease issues just yet, but now that we have some rain some of that can change,” she said.

Generally speaking, winter cereal crops in Saskatchewan came out of winter in pretty good shape, with fewer instances of winterkill than in the past, according to Friesen.

Soil temperatures have also been somewhat warmer this year, which should help the wheat crop going forward, she said.

“In parts of the south and west side of the province, many producers noted that at times the wheat was just kind of sitting in the soil,” said Friesen.

“It wasn’t growing as much as it could have been.”

The bit of rain that fell this week should improve things, she said. “If we didn’t get this rain we might have been in more trouble.”

According to Bruce Burnett, a weather and crop specialist at G3 Canada, wheat and durum are off to a quicker start this season compared to other crops.

“Wheat and durum are probably the two crops that have mostly emerged,” he said.

Dave Sims writes for Commodity News Service Canada, a Winnipeg company specializing in grain and commodity market reporting. Follow CNS Canada on Twitter at @CNSCanada.

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