Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Another storm set to hit the Prairies, threatening farmers’ crops

Farmers in Canada, the world’s top canola grower and a major wheat exporter, will probably have to wait to get in their fields this spring after a blast of wintry weather.

Snow may take longer to melt from fields after a spring storm left 8 to 10 inches (20 to 25 centimeters) on Prairie fields last week, said Joel Widenor, meteorologist at Commodity Weather Group. Another storm is forecast to bring as much as 12 inches of rain and snow to southeastern Saskatchewan and Manitoba this weekend, he said.

“It’s going to be a slow process to melt off,” Widenor said Monday in a phone interview. “As you get into that front end of May things may still be slow to warm up.”

Snow and cold are threatening to delay the start of planting after growers had been struggling with dry conditions through 2021. Drought zapped as much as 40 per cent of Western Canada’s grain output last year.

While the additional moisture is good news in some areas, it will probably delay planting by a week to 10 days, said Ken Ball, a senior commodity futures adviser at PI Financial Corp. in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Delays are adding to worries about global wheat supplies due to disruptions from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and soaring fertilizer costs.

Across the border in the US, snow and colder-than-normal conditions were slowing the planting of crops including corn and spring wheat. While sowing hasn’t been delayed significantly yet, any major disruptions threaten to push up already high grain prices that have been contributing to inflation.

Corn futures in Chicago topped US$8 a bushel for the first time since 2012, while spring wheat futures in Minneapolis rose as much as 3.6 per cent to US$11,875 a bushel, the highest price since March 8.

“We’ve got to start melting this stuff,” Ball said.

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