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Canada’s Drought to Cut Wheat and Canola Production

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Prospects for Canada’s wheat and canola crops are faltering amid persistent hot and dry weather across the prairie provinces. 

Government agency StatCan estimated spring wheat production would be down 14.5% from last year to 22.1 million tonnes, despite a big increase in planted acreage. Spring wheat represents the bulk of Canada’s total wheat production, which is expected to decline 14.2%, to 29.5 million tonnes, year over year. The forecast is StatCan’s first wheat production estimate of the year. 

Gro’s machine-learning Yield Forecast Model for Canada spring wheat has been signaling problems for the crop almost since the start of the season in June, as Gro wrote about here. Currently, Gro’s model is predicting that spring wheat yields and production will be higher than the StatCan estimates.

Drought readings in Canada’s wheat growing areas are the second-highest in two decades, as measured by the Gro Drought Index, weighted for acres planted to wheat using Gro’s Climate Risk Navigator for Agriculture. In addition, Gro’s vegetative health index for the crop, which began dropping sharply in early July, is close to the lowest levels for this century.

Among the major wheat growing provinces, Saskatchewan is showing the worst drought conditions in areas planted to wheat, while less severe drought readings are present in Alberta and Manitoba, as shown in this Gro display.  

Harvest of spring wheat, which is high in protein and used for bread flour, began in mid-August and will run through October. This year, Canadian farmers expanded spring wheat acreage by 7.5%, sending Canada’s total wheat area soaring to its highest level since 2001. 

Canada’s harvest of spring wheat, the world’s largest, is especially important amid a difficult growing season for US spring wheat, which is about half harvested. Good-to-excellent crop conditions for US spring wheat are far below historical averages. 

Adverse weather has also weighed on Canada’s canola crop, as Gro wrote about here. Soil moisture levels in canola growing regions have hovered near historical lows since the start of the season as year-to-date accumulated rainfall registers at 27% below the 10-year average, as shown in this Gro Navigator display

StatCan projects canola production will drop by 6.1% year-over-year to the smallest harvest in nearly 10 years. Canola is Canada’s second-largest crop, behind wheat. Canadian farmers increased canola planted area this year by 3.2% from a year earlier, continuing a trend that has seen canola acreage nearly double since the early 2000s. 

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