Manitoba: Western Canada farmers scramble for canola seed to re-plant after frost

By Rod Nickel

WINNIPEG, Manitoba (Reuters) – Western Canadian farmers are scrambling to find scarce canola seed as they re-plant crops snuffed out by frost and insects.

Farmers have until mid- to late June to plant ahead of insurance deadlines, but the later they sow canola, the higher the risk of damage later from heat or frost. Canada is the biggest producer and exporter of canola, used to produce vegetable oil.

Western Canada’s Prairies are prone to crop-damaging weather, from floods to drought, but severe frost last week arrived unusually late in spring.

“We’ve never seen an event like this,” said Rob Schultz, vice-president of sales and commercial operations for Bayer CropScience Canada, whose InVigor brand makes up about half of Western Canada’s canola seed sales. “We’re trying to go as fast as we can to manage the demand.”

Since last week’s frost, government crop insurance corporations in Manitoba and Saskatchewan have registered 1,500 and 900 crop insurance claims respectively, mostly for canola.

For the year, Manitoba has received 2,550 claims for re-seeding covering 800,000 acres (324,000 hectares), mostly since last week, said claims manager David Van Deynze.

David Hansen, chief executive of Winnipeg-based Canterra Seeds, estimates that farmers are re-sowing 1 million acres of canola across the Prairies.

Both Bayer and rival Monsanto said they moved quickly to transfer seed inventories to short areas such as southwestern Manitoba and eastern Saskatchewan, as well as treat additional seed.

“The supply isn’t really the issue, it’s more around getting it in the right place at the right time,” Schultz said.

Kyle Holman usually buys seed near his Crystal City, Manitoba farm. But this week he drove 90 minutes for most of the seed he will need to replant 560 canola acres.

He planted those acres during the first week of May, earlier than usual. That canola survived flea beetles and a cold blast around mid-May before frost destroyed it last weekend.

“It’s very frustrating and disappointing to lose it this late,” Holman said.

Others have it worse. Some of Holman’s neighbors are planting canola for the third time this spring.

Typically, about 0.4 percent of the canola seed Monsanto sells for spring planting is re-seeded, but this year that percentage may be 3 percent, said Neil Arbuckle, Monsanto Canada’s national sales and strategy lead.

“We’ve done our best to get product into the hands of farmers, who are quite antsy to get product into the ground,” he said.

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Frost damage in Manitoba drives up canola prices

By Rod Nickel

Source: Reuters

WINNIPEG, Manitoba (Reuters) – Frost late last week in the Canadian Prairie province of Manitoba wiped out many canola fields, driving up the oilseed’s price and generating hundreds of insurance claims from farmers.

The damage from unseasonable freezing temperatures on Friday and early Saturday was worst in western Manitoba, Angela Brackenreed, agronomy specialist in Manitoba for the Canola Council of Canada, said on Monday.

“There’s a lot of fields that are completely written off, that need to be re-seeded,” she said.

Brackenreed said it is too early to estimate the number of acres lost as damage varied widely from one field to another.

ICE Canada November canola futures jumped 3.4 percent on Monday.

The frost compounded worries about the size of the crop in Canada, the biggest producer and exporter of canola, a futures trader said. Some crops on Western Canada’s Prairies have struggled with too little moisture, and the number of acres planted was already smaller than expected.

Canola is crushed to produce vegetable oil, used in foods such as margarine and salad dressings.

Manitoba Agricultural Services Corp, the provincial government corporation that sells crop insurance to farmers, recorded 700 claims on Monday, nearly doubling the total for the whole year, said David Van Deynze, manager of claims.

The claims are mainly for canola, and Van Deynze said he expected more to flow in this week.

“Honestly, our phones are ringing off the hook.”

He said the corporation had not tallied how many acres are included in the claims.

Cereals such as wheat, barley and oats are better able to withstand cold than canola.

The frost hit early enough in the growing season that farmers still can re-plant their crops if they choose, Brackenreed said. Some traders said, however, that farmers may find it difficult to buy seed, which is typically in low supply after planting season.

Damage hit most of western Manitoba and parts of eastern Manitoba, Van Deynze said. Farmers in the southern half of the province must plant canola by June 20 to qualify for crop insurance, while the deadline is June 15 for northern areas.

Damage was also visible in some fields on Monday in northeastern Alberta, where light frosts hit last week, said Lawrence Yakielashek, general manager of FarmLink Marketing Solutions, who was driving across the Prairies.

Update: The Sprout: Western farmers running out of canola seed 



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