Crop tour is showing that Prairie crop is a real wild card

It looks like ag reporters like me are going to have lots to write about in the next three months.

And you eastern Prairie farmers are going to have lots to worry about in the next three months.

From the looks of a crop tour across much of the breadth of Manitoba Monday and Tuesday, farmers are shepherding a mixed-bag crop through to harvest this year, with good and bad fields, with fields in which patches of good and poor vie for dominance, with crops that are beset by disease beside crops that are disease-free, and with weeds either present in great flushes or entirely absent depending on when spraying could or could not be done.

The CWB market analysis and crop surveillance crew is tying-up a three-pronged Prairie crop tour Thursday in Regina and they’ve got a lot of conflicting reports to reconcile. (For a collection of stories, photos and a video on the tour, go check out this web page on our site.)

We’ve had a crew of reporters out there too, tagging along with the analysis folks, and for some of us it’s been an education in crop-assessing. I particularly enjoyed getting to see the proper implementation of what I began referring to as the “orange square thingy,” which is placed around bits of growing crop in order to get a sense of plants or heads per square bit. The grown-ups got a number of readings from fields and recorded them, while I took iPhone pix, real camera pix, swatted mosquitoes and no-see-ums, and marvelled at the lack of mud and standing water in the fields – only a few weeks after the deluge that has caused such crop damage from eastern Saskatchewan through southwestern Manitoba.

It’ll be interesting to see the overall assessment of the Prairie crop discussed by the CWB gang in Regina. Whatever they find, it’ll be greatly affected by the weather through the rest of the season. Farmers across the eastern half of the Prairies need good weather and a frost-free September to get most of their crops through safely, so the frost watch is going to become a big pastime for many of us in a few weeks.

But no matter what, the wide range of crop stages, states and production challenges means ag scribblers like me are going to have lots to chatter about in coming weeks.

About the author

Ed White — Ed White has specialized in markets coverage since 2001 and has achieved the Derivatives Market Specialist (DMS) designation with the Canadian Securities Institute.

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