Frost damage has canola farmers scrambling to reseed
Early estimate suggests 10 per cent of seeded fields need a do-over
Canola farmers across Western Canada are scrambling to reseed fields damaged by frost. An early estimate suggests that 10 per cent of seeded fields are getting a do-over.
Ken Bartsch, director of marketing for the seed company BrettYoung, told CBC Monday that as much as one million acres of canola were damaged by frost.
According to industry information, Canadian farmers plant around 11 million acres of canola and most of that is in Western Canada.
Bartsch said the estimate of frost damage is preliminary and the company is still collecting data but he said the reseeding is the highest he has encountered in recent memory.
"Usually it's fairly limited and very isolated," Bartsch said. "But this is the widest-spread I've seen in the last five to six years."
In some cases farmers are replanting with a variety of canola that matures quickly. Some have chosen a different grain altogether.
"Some have switched out of the canola and gone to a cereal grain because of the timing issue," he said.
Paul Hounjet, who farms in the Prud'homme area about 70 kilometres northeast of Saskatoon, told CBC News that frost damage has taken a toll on his operations.
"All of our fields were affected by frost to some extent," Hounjet said. "So none of our fields are going to have the plant count that they're supposed to have. But we'll live with what we have."
He said some of his fields were hit just ten days after they were seeded. That led to a difficult decision.
"As I can see right now, maybe it was the right decision not to reseed," he said. "It's not pretty, but we're hoping there's enough plants there to fill up and hopefully have enough to pay the bills."
Bartsch said most farmers have completed or are nearly completed their reseeding efforts.
He notes that there is still enough of a growing season to have success, but timing for harvest will be critical.
"You can still do every bit as well as the original crop," he said. "It's been warm, so if it had some moisture in the soil, the crop got off the ground very quickly, it'll be going gangbusters."
With frost worries behind them (not to return until the fall) farmers are now looking for rain.