The 2019 prairie crop is more variable than in past years but better than what many predicted in spring, according to data gathered during a three-province crop tour led by FarmLink Solutions.
Overall production and individual crop yield estimates changed only slightly after yield measurements conducted throughout the region July 30-31.
They could change again depending on the weather.
At a wrap-up session Aug. 1, FarmLink’s chief market analyst, Neil Townsend, said some areas rebounded better after rain came in June and overall he was pleased with the findings.
“One of the big takeaways from the crop in 2019 is a higher degree of variability than in other years,” he said.
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Canola in particular is variable throughout the Prairies.
Still, yield estimates for canola and lentils did not change at all, while other crops were up a bit. Oat yields went up one percent, while peas, wheat and durum saw three-percent increases. Barley saw the biggest change at six percent more.
By crop, the tour projects durum yields of 40.8 bushels per acre, canola at 39.9, wheat at 52.1, oats at 91, barley at 67.64, peas at 37.6 and lentils at 21.9.
By province, there are differences in yield expectations for wheat, with 44.5 bu. per acre in Saskatchewan, 54.5 in Alberta and 58.5 in Manitoba.
Canola yields should be similar to the projection in all three. Peas should yield significantly higher in Manitoba, at 51 bu. per acre.
Crops are in many cases behind in development, leading to concerns about frost in September. Canola is still flowering in places.
“Even if we just got a frost on a normal date there could be some risk there just from what we saw from the canola side,” Townsend said.
Drew Lerner, agricultural meteorologist at World Weather Inc., told the meeting that frost isn’t likely to come early.
He said August should be fairly normal weather-wise and continue to be dry.
“We have one opportunity for rain coming up in southern Alberta and southwestern Saskatchewan, an extremely important event,” he said in an interview.
He said a high pressure ridge may move and allow precipitation into the region around Aug. 10. That would help fill crops.
Once September rolls around he said he worries because a normal frost date of about Sept. 12-20 would harm later developing crops.
Lerner doesn’t think there will be a long growing season given the factors he watches to develop forecasts.
Townsend said the crops that are behind still have a chance in good weather.
He added the tour found less drought impact around Winnipeg than expected and that crops in Saskatchewan recovered well, on average, from the drought. One exception is the west-central area.
“A lot of people had killed the crop,” he said. “The only acre with no potential is an acre that doesn’t get planted.”
In Alberta, tour participants found stark contrasts between north and south.
“The good crops in the north were better looking than the bad crops in the south were bad,” Townsend said.
A wet area west of Edmonton and another dry year in the Peace region are still of concern.
He added there will be those who find fault with the estimates but they are a snapshot of conditions in certain locations at certain times.
“There may be some further iteration of the acres and that’s something we have to process a little bit now,” he said.