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Summerfallow area surpasses March forecast

Summerfallow area (000 acres)

More prairie farmland is likely to be taking an involuntary holiday this year than last year due to the wet, late spring in many areas.

But exactly how many acres are unseeded by crop insurance deadlines is hard to say, according to CWB crop situation analyst Bruce Burnett.

Instead of summerfallow acreage falling this year, as indicated in the Statistics Canada March seeding intentions report, it’s likely to increase by more than a million acres over last year.

“That’s virtually a certainty now,” said Burnett on May 29.

“The reduction isn’t going to happen.”

The Statistics Canada March 31 seeding intentions survey said farmers expected to leave only 3.5 million acres fallow in 2013, down from 4.5 million in 2012.

In 2011 the fallow area surged to 11.8 million acres as flooding inundated major parts of Manitoba and Saskatchewan.

Burnett said he was surprised to see the StatsCan survey cut the 2013 number further from the 2012 number, since 4.5 million acres was already low.

Farmers were very aggressive with wanting to plant every acre they could in 2013, but achieving that target would be difficult.

“I think it was somewhat unrealistic to have area estimates that were up at that level for the sown area,” said Burnett.

Instead of a million acre reduction, summerfallow might increase by two to three million acres in 2013.

However, it is hard to say where the number will end up because farmers are capable of incredible feats of seeding when they get decent weather.

Burnett said the CWB’s May 27 estimate that all-prairie acreage was 70-75 percent finished was amazing in the context of snow being on the fields only weeks before and cold temperatures prevailing for almost all of April and May.

“When you think about the situation we faced four weeks ago, that’s impressive progress,” he said.

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