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HomeTop StoriesPrairie drought drives Canada's canola, wheat production down more than 35%: StatsCan

Prairie drought drives Canada’s canola, wheat production down more than 35%: StatsCan

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Curtis McRae opens a half-empty grain bin and picks up a handful of seeds.

“It isn’t fairly canola,” he jokes. 

The farmer from St. Andrews, Man., solely managed to develop half the canola he anticipated this 12 months. All of his grain crops suffered because the Prairies have been battered by months of drought.

“They acquired dry sufficient that they stopped rising. That was one thing we have not seen,” he mentioned in an interview with CBC final week. “All through the season we knew we have been in hassle.”

The most recent numbers from Statistics Canada present he is not alone.

This summer time’s drought drove down crop yields for your entire nation, the federal company says. A number of main grains grown in Western Canada had the biggest yearly yield lower on document.

Canola manufacturing fell 35.4 per cent nationally, and wheat manufacturing was down 38.5 per cent, based on data released earlier this month.

Soybean manufacturing for the nation as an entire was down 1.4 per cent, however in Manitoba, the place the drought was probably the most extreme, soybean yields fell 17.1 per cent. Barley and oat manufacturing additionally dropped considerably.

Worst drought in ’50 to 60 years’

For McRae, whose farm is simply north of Winnipeg, the little precipitation that may have saved his thirsty soybean crop arrived as hail, wiping out that crop alongside along with his wheat. He needed to declare crop insurance coverage on virtually all of his fields.

“This drought is the worst in 50 to 60 years,” mentioned Trevor Hadwen, an agroclimate specialist with Agriculture and Agri-food Canada, a federal division that offers recommendation to farmers to higher deal with excessive climate.

“It was all the best way again to 1961 earlier than we are able to see one thing even comparable.”

A map exhibiting precipitation percentiles from September 2020 till July 2021 illustrates how extreme the drought was within the Prairies, particularly in Manitoba. (Agriculture and Agri-Meals Canada)

Whereas drought is a traditional incidence in Western Canada, it’s turning into extra widespread and extreme, Hadwen mentioned. This summer time’s dry spell stretched from Vancouver Island to northwestern Ontario.

Yields might have been even worse, he mentioned, had it not been for enhancements in farming practices.

“That is a profit to all their administration practices — the science that goes into plant breeding and the varieties which might be accessible to to producers this 12 months,” he mentioned.

Even with farmers doing all they may to get probably the most out of their crops, although, they have been working with more and more dry soil.

The 2021 rising season was notably fraught on the Prairies, particularly in Manitoba, as a result of it adopted a lot of dry years.

Manitoba wants above-average precipitation this winter and spring to make up for that, Hadwen mentioned.

Thus far, that hasn’t been the case.

‘Hotter, drier and extra fiery Prairies’

On the Prairies, 99 per cent of agricultural land continues to be both “abnormally dry” or in a drought scenario, based on the November report from the Canadian Drought Monitor.

It is a signal that local weather change is having an instantaneous affect on Canada’s agriculture system, based on the chief director of the College of Winnipeg’s Prairie Local weather Centre.

“The fashions, the science, are enjoying out in actual time,” mentioned Ian Mauro, an affiliate professor with the college’s geography division. “That is critical stuff.”

Whereas it may be tough to right away draw a direct connection between local weather change and a particular climate occasion, the drought is strictly what local weather specialists have warned about, Mauro mentioned.

The science signifies that is precisely what you’ll count on to occur as a result of local weather change.– Ian Mauro, Prairie Local weather Centre, College of Winnipeg

“We will completely say that the science signifies that that is precisely what you’ll count on to occur as a result of local weather change,” he mentioned.

“The science … exhibits that we’ll have a warmer, drier and extra fiery Prairies,” he mentioned. A worst-case situation is the drought persevering with 12 months after 12 months.

A silver lining for farmers like Curtis McRae is that the poor rising season led to the next worth for canola.

Nonetheless, he says he is minimize his finances, holding off on shopping for any farm gear and as an alternative prepping fertilizer for subsequent 12 months’s crop.

“I do not suppose you possibly can ever break a farmer’s hope.”

Learn the Statistics Canada report:

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