Mixed conditions loom over Manitoba winter cereals

CNS Canada — A mix of freezing and warming conditions put Manitoba’s winter cereals in uncertain condition, following months of promising weather, according to the head of an industry group.

Manitoba’s winter wheat and fall rye crops had ample snow cover throughout the winter, which supported crops, but more recently, conditions turned slushy, then froze again.

“We were all happy; all winter we had so much snow. We didn’t expect it to all disappear and then turn into a skating rink,” said Jake Davidson, executive director of Winter Cereals Manitoba and Winter Cereals Canada.

Whether those conditions froze deep enough to cause damage is yet to be determined, as producers are unable to get into fields.

Farmers “try to go out into fields and they get stuck with their ATVs, so they’re just sitting back,” Davidson said.

However, he noted, this time of year is seasonally slow for winter cereal producers, and more aggressive crop testing typically starts closer to mid- or late April.

“The spring wheat people are getting geared up; the winter wheat people, other than throwing a little fertilizer on, this is a pretty quiet time of the year.”

Manitoba producers seeded 140,000 acres of winter wheat last fall, compared to 175,000 the previous year.

— Jade Markus writes for Commodity News Service Canada, a Winnipeg company specializing in grain and commodity market reporting.

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