Above average wheat and canola yields expected in Saskatchewan’s harvest

Bill Gehl combines his wheat field north of Regina. Dave Parsons / Global News

About a fifth of Saskatchewan’s crop has been harvested for the season. This likely won’t be a record year, but it is expected to be an above average year overall.

Darrin Boulding is a farmhand who works just south of Avonhurst, Sask. He spent Thursday combining lentil fields. Lentils this season did not yield high growth.

“Lots of disease in lentils. Volume is down significantly because of that. Lots of plant growth, but volume is down,” he explained.

READ MORE: Farmers making progress on harvesting the 2016 Saskatchewan crop

However, he’s seen stronger yields coming from cereals.

“I wouldn’t say it’s going to be a bumper crop this year, but definitely, on the side of canola, canola is going to be a real good crop this year. Cereals are going to be average to a little above average, Boulding said.

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Agriculture Minister Lyle Stewart has heard similar anecdotes from across the province.

“It looks like probably an above average crop overall,” Stewart remarked.

READ MORE: Canada-China agree to extension in canola ‘dockage’ dispute: Trudeau

The minister said he has heard varying reports about pulse yields, especially lentils.

Just north of Regina, Bill Gehl said the area used to be a pulse paradise. However, the past three years have seen less than desirable results.

“Just a terrible amount of root rot, and just again, excess moisture at the wrong time. So we’ll be abandoning peas for next year,” Gehl said.

However, Gehl’s flax is growing well, and he anticipates a good crop as long as the grasshoppers don’t get into it.

Gehl is also board chair for the Saskatchewan Wheat Development Commission. He said anecdotally he’s heard durum wheat is a mixed bag. Some areas are reporting strong yields, but the western portion of the province is having some issues.

“Here, we’re looking at an above average year. Certainly the rain has caused some issues with bleaching, but I think it will still be grading quite good,” Gehl said.

READ MORE: Dry weather in the east, wet weather in the west hurting crop production

Yields are only part of the equation in determining a successful crop. Price plays a factor as well, and according to the agriculture minister, it’s not looking as strong either.

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“Price is going to be off, because of large wheat crops in other parts of the world too, particularly the U.S.A,” Stewart explained.

Gehl argued that prices for wheat have been trending down since the Canadian Wheat Board’s monopoly was dissolved.

“It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that we used to get 92 per cent of the export price of grain. Now we’re 78 per cent, and two, three years ago we were about 50 per cent,” he said.

With large yields expected, Stewart said he has been in contact with the railway companies. He said he told them to be ready to move the crop and avoid backlogs.

Stewart said it’s reasonable to say that this year’s crop could be in Saskatchewan’s top five, but to take it with a grain of salt.

“It’s kind of a mug’s game to predict the size of a crop until it’s in the bin,” he said.

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