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Canadian spring wheat in much better health than US crop

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Spring wheat crops in Canada have made a much better start than those in the US, to judge by initial ratings in the top growing province, which in fact showed canola, chickpeas and durum suffering worse from weather hiccups.

Saskatchewan farm officials, in their first crop ratings of 2017, pegged the province's spring wheat crop at 75% in "good" or "excellent" condition, with only 3% seen as "poor", and none as "very poor".

The figure is notably lower than the 92% of Saskatchewan spring wheat rated good or excellent as of a year.

However, it is well above the 45% good or excellent figure attributed to the US spring wheat crop, of which 20% is rated as poor or very poor, on official data released on Monday.

Saskatchewan - with an average harvest of spring wheat, excluding durum, of some 8.5m tonnes over the past year – is typically responsible for more than 40% of Canada's overall crop, which averages 20.6m tonnes.

The average US spring wheat harvest over the past three years is 15.7m tonnes.

'Conditions were deteriorating'

"Overall crop development has improved with the warm and wet weather," Saskatchewan officials, said, with southern and central parts of Saskatchewan have previously struggled with the same dryness which has afflicted northern US crops.

Proportion of Saskatchewan crop rated "good" or "excellent", (change on year ago)

Spring wheat: 75%, (-17 points)

Barley: 73%, (-19 points)

Canola: 64%, (-22 points)

Durum: 59%, (-37 points)

Chickpeas: 54%, (-45 points)

Data compare crop condition as of June 12 2017 with that of June 13 2016

"Many areas in the south were relieved to see rain as crops, hay land and pastures were in need of significant moisture."

Before the latest band of rains "topsoil moisture conditions were deteriorating in southern and central areas".

Canola woes

Even so, topsoil moisture in 41% of the province is seen as "short" or "very short"

And this figure disguises an excess of moisture in many northern parts, where wet fields have left farmers a little behind in seedings.

"Much of the north has surplus topsoil moisture at this time," the officials said in a report.

The briefing also showed some crops suffering more from the conditions than spring wheat, with the proportion of canola rated good or excellent, at 64%, down 22 points year on year.

Saskatchewan, which has produced an average of 9.09m tonnes of canola over the past three years, is responsible for a little over half the Canadian total harvest, which has averaged 17.7m tonnes, according to official data.

Canada is the world's top exporter of the rapeseed variant.

In durum wheat, Saskatchewan produces more than 80% of the country's typical 6.1m-tonne harvest.

By Mike Verdin

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