As of Aug. 27, the Saskatchewan government estimates that 27% of the province's crop is harvested. This compares to the 26% harvested as of the same week last year while the five-year average is calculated at 13.4%, or 50% of the current pace. It may be debatable if last year's pace can be maintained. This time last year, the crop report estimated a further 24% of the crop was swathed or ready to cut, while this week's report shows this estimate at 17%. As well, last year saw a significant jump in progress of 19 points from 26% complete to 45% complete in the week ending Sept. 4, while the five-year average is 13.4 points for this week. Weather should be favorable for harvest through the long weekend while late in the seven-day window light showers could slow activity.
The province's first yield estimates for the growing season, just one day ahead of Statistics Canada's production estimates based on late-July surveys, points to yields that are mostly below last year and below their respective five-year average. Given a look at selected major crops a few exceptions are peas, where the 39 bushel/acre estimate is higher than last year's Statistics Canada final yield estimate for the province of 33.8 bpa, while also higher than the 36.04 bpa five-year average. Soybean yields are estimated at 23 bpa, above last year's final Statistics Canada estimate of 20.8 bpa while below the five-year average of 25.7 bpa.
Looking at the big crops, the province's yield for canola is estimated at 33 bpa, below last year's 38.9 bpa final estimate and the five-year average of 36 bpa. It is interesting to note that this time last year, the province estimated canola at 31 bpa, while Statistics Canada's final was significantly higher at 38.9 bpa. Commercial traders did not seem to bat an eye at today's report, with the Nov/Jan spread weakening while cash basis levels remain weak.
Saskatchewan Agriculture estimated hard red spring wheat yields to average 40 bpa, below last year's 46.1 bpa final and the five-year average of 43.3 bpa. On Aug. 28, 2017, the HRS estimate was pegged at 38 bpa, again well-below the final yield estimate, with the Saskatchewan government under-estimating the crop potential in the northern regions, the last to harvest.
This week's provincial durum estimate came in at 29 bpa, below last year's final estimate of 35 bpa and the five-year average of 41.2 bpa. Indeed, durum is grown in the southern regions of the province and bore the brunt of this summer's heat. At the same time, this crop was estimated at 30 bpa this time last year, or 5 bpa below the final yield estimate for the province.
A further look at these estimates will be included in Friday's analysis of Statistics Canada's estimates, while this report could spark further discussion on whether the estimates based on late-July surveys can possibly be corrected for the extreme, record-setting heat experienced in the southern prairies in the month of August.
Statistics Canada will release its upcoming production report at 7:30 a.m. CDT on Aug. 31. On Sept. 19, Statistics Canada will follow up with its model-based field crop estimates.
Cliff Jamieson can be reached at email@example.com
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