PRINTABLE VERSION   EMAIL TO A FRIEND   RSS FEEDS 10:45 UK, 26th May 2017, by Mike Verdin
Some 1.6m acres of Saskatchewan to go unseeded, officials say

Approaching 700,000 hectares of crops in Canada's top grain-growing province will go unplanted thanks to excessive rainfall, with rains returning after a dry window which allowed some catch-up in seedings.

Farm officials in Saskatchewan, reporting overnight on spring sowings progress, said that "it is estimated that 5% of acres will not be seeded due to excess moisture".

Excluding winter crops from the 13.4m hectares of Saskatchewan plantings unveiled by a Statistics Canada report last month into farm sowings plans, that amounts to some 650,000-700,000 hectares (1.6m-1.7m acres) of lost area.

The Saskatchewan briefing also flagged that "some" crops will need reseeding after "hard frost last week damaged some alfalfa, winter cereal and canola fields".

North vs south

The comments came even as Saskatchewan reported some catch-up by farmers on sowings in the week to Monday, when "much of the province did not receive any moisture".

"Seeding is advancing quickly in the province thanks to warm, dry weather," officials said, pegged at 60% the proportion of spring sowings completed as of Monday double the figure of a week before, although still behind the average of 65%.

However, the average figure disguised a sharp difference in fortunes between growers in southerly areas, where farmers have got ahead in seedings and where dryness is raising some concerns over germination - and northern parts where moisture problems are focused.

"Many producers have completed seeding operations while others will need several more weeks of warm, dry weather."

In north eastern Saskatchewan, where farmers have seeded just 25% of their crops, the proportion of lost area was seen coming in at 15%.

'Notable rains have returned'

Canada's Prairies in fact receiving fresh precipitation, with Minneapolis-based broker Benson Quinn Commodities saying that "the problem areas of north central Alberta into north western Saskatchewan are receiving the expected rain".

Don Keeney at MDA Weather Services said that "notable rains have now returned to western areas, which are stalling fieldwork.

"The rains should push into central and eastern Prairies crop areas over the next few days, slowing planting there as well."

In the western Prairies, "drier weather this weekend will allow planting there to resume", he said, but rainfall "should return there later next week".

Futures price impact

Canada's sowings setbacks have, given the country's importance as a grower of spring wheat and canola, fuelled outperformance in prices of both crops.

Winnipeg's July canola contrast has fallen by 0.4% this week, in dollar terms, compared with a 1.7% decline in Chicago soybean futures for July.

Minneapolis spring wheat, meanwhile, on Thursday saw its premium over Chicago-traded soft red winter wheat a lower-quality grain touch a contract high of $1.32 a bushel, July basis.

Lowest stocks since 2014

Amid longstanding talk of some squeeze on supplies of higher quality wheat, Tregg Cronin, at North Dakota-based Halo Commodity Company, flagged a "continued draw in hard red spring wheat stocks" certified for delivery against Minneapolis futures.

"Combined stocks in Minneapolis/Duluth declined by 961,000 bushels" in a "sixth consecutive week" of shrinkage which has reduced inventories by 5.51m bushels.

"Total wheat stocks now stand at 19.405m bushels versus 22.737m bushels a year ago, and the lowest since 2014."

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