Canada Markets

Crop Condition Assessment Program Highlights Slow Start to Canadian Crops

Cliff Jamieson
By  Cliff Jamieson , Canadian Grains Analyst
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This graphic shows the prairie vegetative growth index as of May 26, 2019 when compared to the 1987-to-2018 average. Vegetative growth is shown to be lower to much lower than average as of May 26. (Statistics Canada/AAFC graphic)

The Crop Condition Assessment Program's first release for 2019, a joint effort between Statistics Canada and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, points to the prairie vegetative index that is lower to much lower than normal when compared to data generated from 1987-to-2018. This analysis is based on a one-kilometer resolution satellite data for each census agriculture region for both pasture and crop land.

Weather conditions, including low temperatures, little precipitation and late frost have quickly shifted the focus away from the quick pace of spring seeding on the Prairies. As of May 28, 94% of Manitoba's crop was seeded as compared to the five-year average of 88%; on May 27, 92% of Saskatchewan's crop was seeded as compared to the five-year average of 83%; while in Alberta, 91% of the major crops was seeded as of May 28 which compares to the five-year average of 79%.

AAFC's Percent of Average Precipitation chart, as of June 3, shows close to the entire Prairies having received less than 85% of average precipitation for the April 1-through-June 3 period, while a considerable area -- across central and southern regions of all three prairie provinces and stretching into northern Alberta -- has realized less than 40% of normal precipitation.

In addition to the dry conditions, temperatures have also lagged normal temperatures for this time of year. During the month of May, prairie temperatures are reported by AAFC to range from zero to 3 degrees Celsius below normal, slowing plant development.

Environment Canada daily data shows the total Saskatoon, Saskatchewan precipitation received from April 1 through June 3 at 4.8 millimeters. Over the past five years (2014-through-2018), precipitation for this location over this period has ranged from 21.1 mm in 2015 to 135.3 mm in 2014, averaging 63.7 mm, which highlights the severity of the current dry conditions. The maximum temperature for June 3 was 35.1 C, creating an additional stress for crops.

Crop condition estimates will be closely watched as we move forward, while to-date, there are numerous reports of crops such as canola and mustard struggling to establish.

While a great deal of hope is placed on a rain event forecast for the upcoming weekend across the Prairies, Tuesday's models show variability and uncertainty for southern Alberta, southwest and central Saskatchewan.

While not shown, the same CCAP report points to the vegetative index in most of Ontario and Quebec is also much lower than normal, with lower temperatures and excessive moisture being determining factors that have slowed spring planting and crop development. Only the most southern tip of southwestern Ontario is showing a lower-than-average vegetative index, while the balance of the growing area is classed as much lower than average.

AAFC's Percent of Average Precipitation map for Ontario shows the bulk of the province receiving 115% to 150% of average precipitation from April 1 through June 3, while significant areas have experienced 150% to 200% of normal moisture. The Mean Temperature Difference From Normal chart for May shows temperatures ranging from zero to 4 degrees C below normal.


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