Sask. crop nearly in the bin; yields to rise in 2022 across Prairies

Early estimates from Statistics Canada suggest crop yields will be higher this harvest because of better growing conditions in Western Canada.

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Recent ideal weather conditions have allowed Saskatchewan producers across all regions in the province to make immense progress with harvest this month.

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According to the province’s latest crop report, 64 per cent of the crop has now been harvested, up from 42 per cent from the previous week and just ahead of the five-year (2017-2021) average of 57 per cent. An additional 20 per cent of the crop is ready to swath or straight cut. Many producers in the southwest and west-central regions have already completed harvest.

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Saskatchewan is part of a trend, as farmers are on track to produce a better crop this year, even as the memory of a punishing drought last year remains fresh in the Prairie provinces.

Early estimates from Statistics Canada suggest crop yields will be higher this harvest because of better growing conditions in Western Canada.

The agency said last week it expects higher production levels for many crops, including canola, barley, soybeans and corn.

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After a late start to seeding due to poor weather, much of the Prairies has received consistent precipitation since June this year.

That’s a sharp contrast from 2021, when a severe drought withered crops in the fields. According to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada statistics, Western Canadian production of principal field crops fell by more than 40 per cent year-over-year in 2021, and was nearly 37 per cent below the previous five-year average.

For the country as a whole, total 2021 field crop production for Canada was more than 30 per cent lower than in 2020 and 27 per cent below the previous five-year average.

According to the Saskatchewan crop report, “there are concerns regarding soil moisture and a good soaking rain post-harvest would be ideal, as soil is drying out across the province after several weeks of minimal precipitation, wind and hot weather.”

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But for now, the drying trend has allowed for ample time to bring in the crops.

Harvest is most advanced in the southwest region, where 93 per cent of the crop is in the bin. The west-central has 80 per cent combined, the southeast 57 per cent, the northwest 47 per cent, the east-central 46 per cent and the northeast 41 per cent.

Ninety-five per cent of lentils and field peas, 90 per cent of durum, 72 per cent of barley, 68 per cent of spring wheat, 39 per cent of canola and 23 per cent of flax has been combined. There is an additional 40 per cent of canola that is ready to swath or straight-cut.

Durum quality grades are estimated as 50 per cent 1 CW, 30 per cent 2 CW, 15 per cent 3 CW and five per cent 4 and 5 CW. Pea quality grades are estimated as 45 per cent 1 CAN, 46 per cent 2 CAN, nine per cent 3 CAN and one per cent Sample grade. Lentil quality grades are estimated as 34 per cent 1 CAN, 60 per cent 2 CAN and seven per cent 3 CAN.

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Cropland topsoil moisture is rated as one per cent surplus, 37 per cent adequate, 38 per cent short and 24 per cent very short. Hay and pasture land topsoil moisture is rated as one per cent surplus, 27 per cent adequate, 44 per cent short and 28 per cent very short.

The majority of crop damage recently was due to light hail, wind and dry conditions. Frost was reported from the southeast up into the northwest; damage is not assessed yet as some areas received more severe frosts than others. Strong winds have continued to blow swaths and shell out crops. There were also reports of damage caused by wildlife and waterfowl as they make their way south.

According to Statistics Canada, wheat will be among the most dramatic yield increases across the country this year. Nationally, wheat production is projected to increase by 55.6 per cent year-over-year to 34.7 million tonnes in 2022, according to Statistics Canada.

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Farmers who do get a good crop should be able to capitalize on this year’s high prices. After flattening out slightly over the summer, grain prices are expected to remain relatively strong in the immediate future due to tight Canadian supplies, more comfortable but still relatively tight global supplies, and expectations for continued strong international demand.

— with files from Regina Leader-Post

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