Any other year, a rapid pace of harvest and beating adverse fall weather is a desirable goal on the Prairies. However, this year's extreme heat experienced over the summer has matured crops far quicker than normal and light stands have led to a quicker pace in the field that may be talked about for a long time, and not in a good way.
The Saskatchewan government has estimated the province's harvest at 20% complete as of Aug. 16, well above the 4% harvested this week in 2020 and the five-year average of 4%. This is also equal to the 21% reported by Manitoba Agriculture as of Aug. 17. An additional 14% of the crop is ready to straight combine, two-times the five-year average of 7%. Within the weekly Crop Report, the government has described the pace of harvest in one region as "enormously ahead of the five-year average" and in another, described the pace of harvest as "unprecedented."
Yields are reported in a range from extremely disappointing, below expectations in many areas and range as high as close to average. The production equation is further complicated by acres written off and salvaged for feed. Both the yield and harvested acre balls remain up in the air and it may be a long time until there is clarity surrounding the overall potential for the province.
Just today a southwest Saskatchewan grain industry contact stated this crop is the worst since 1988, bearing in mind this area was hit hard with dry conditions and extreme heat this season. In 1988, the province's average canola yield fell 30% to 17.7 bushels per acre (bpa), below the five-year average of 23.3 bpa. The durum yield that year fell by 58% to 11.2 bpa, well below the five-year average of 23.5 bpa, according to Statistics Canada estimates.
The world is watching. When Canada adds a few million extra tons of production to the world balance sheet in any given year it's not the biggest news, but when an agency like the USDA trims Canada's production by 11.183 million metric tons or by 32% from the previous year, as they have done in their August WASDE report, market watchers around the world take note.
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