There is no doubt that 2016 will be remembered as a wet year in the Canadian Prairies, and perhaps a "great flood" year, similar in some respects to 1993 in the U.S. Corn Belt -- when persistent rain dragged down crop production and quality.
Western Canada has truly been inundated with precipitation during harvest season. The past 30 days have brought more than 200% -- more than double -- the normal precipitation totals to most of the region. The heaviest precipitation covers a huge swath from the western half of Manitoba across Saskatchewan into central Alberta. Actual totals
To say that harvest has stalled is putting it mildly. This week's Saskatchewan crop report pegs harvest for all crops at 82%. That figure only advanced by a single percentage point in the past seven days, and is only two percentage points greater than the 80% mark on October 3. DTN Canada Market Analyst Cliff Jamieson notes, "The 18% of (Saskatchewan) province's acres yet to be combined translates into roughly 6.237 million acres for all crops given harvested acre estimates released in earlier Stats Canada reports."
The over-twice-as-much-as-normal rain carries through the entire season. Saskatchewan's average rainfall for the time frame April through October is in the range of 200 to 300 millimeters, or 8 to 16 inches. This year's totals are ranging from 400 to 700 millimeters, or 16 to 28 inches.
Producers are feeling the strain of this slog through the fields. Saskatchewan producer Stuart Lawrence commented on Twitter, "It's wetter than I've seen in 26 years of farming. Two-thirds done but we rarely combine many acres in October let alone November." In northeastern Alberta, Taylor Snyder noted, "Between the snow and the rain and the cool weather it's hard to get worse than it is now." And Walter Moebis, a grower and grain quality consultant in Calgary, Alberta, said of the rain-damaged wheat in western Canada, "The amount of wet grain and fusarium-damaged (wheat) being harvested is going to haunt the industry for a long time."
Forecast models do suggest the next couple weeks will be drier over most of the Prairies. This points to improved harvest conditions. But, of course, that does not promise an upgrade in quality of grain that has already slipped into the feed-grade category.
Bryce Anderson can be reached at email@example.com
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