Manitoba seed deadline passes, 1.5M acres unplanted
Manitoba is likely to set a dismal new record for the number of fields that will go unplanted this year, following a rainy spring that made it all but impossible for many farmers to seed their land.
Monday was the deadline for farmers to have grain crops in the ground in order to qualify for crop insurance. But with many areas still underwater or heavily saturated, that just wasn't realistic for many.
"It seems very clear we're going to be exceeding the record one-and-a-half million unplanted acres set earlier in the decade," said Stuart McMillan of the Canadian Wheat Board.
"Estimates are still being worked on but it will not be surprising to see that reach over 2 million."
In Manitoba, areas along both the Assiniboine and Souris River have experienced widespread flooding due to heavy rains.
In Saskatchewan the situation is similar, with about 1.5 million acres expected to go unseeded.
Days of recent heavy rain have stressed flood dikes and overwhelmed sewage systems in the Regina area.
On Monday, a statement on the Canadian Wheat Board's website said about 87 per cent of crops were planted across the Prairies, and that number wasn't expected to improve.
"Widespread rains across the Prairies have dashed hopes of any additional seeding in the wettest areas of south-eastern Saskatchewan and south-western Manitoba, where precipitation ranged between 25 and 115 millimetres over the past week," the statement said.
McMillan, whose own family was only able to plant one field out of a total of 12 on their farm, said roughly 15-20 per cent of Manitoba's farm land won't be planted.
"We know that farmers even outside of the worst hit areas have still been affected and it looks like these rains are going to be continuing and continuing to pose challenges," he said.
Many farmers were in a race to plant their crops by Monday in order to qualify for crop insurance. Those who were successful will still generate some income for every acre they seeded, regardless of whether the crop succeeds.
Those who weren't able to plant a crop will likely apply for Excess Moisture Insurance, which accounts for a much smaller payback for farmers -- just $50 per acre.
Rained-out farmers have little choice but to begin focusing their efforts elsewhere, McMillan said.
"They're going to have to continue to focus on the rest of their operations, be that managing the crops they have in the ground, caring for livestock or preparing for next year," McMillan said.
He said many communities in Manitoba are expecting the crop disaster to leave residents short of cash.
"I know already municipalities are bracing for the impact that's going to be trickling down because a lot of farmers have seeded no acres at all, and in other areas only a quarter of the entire area has been planted," McMillan said.
Doug Chorney, president of Keystone Agricultural Producers, said many farmers across the Prairies are "really desperate at this point to see how they're going to make it through the year."
In Manitoba alone, Chorney said, an estimated $750 million to $1 billion in potential revenue will be lost.