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Canada Winter Wheat Crops Dodge Effects of Drought

22 August 2012

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CANADA - A researcher with the University of Manitoba reports this year's fall-seeded cereal crops dodged the dry weather that is affecting the spring-seeded crops in many regions.

Drought conditions through the US and parts of Canada have taken a dramatic toll on this year's spring-seeded cereal crops.

Dr Anita Brûlé-Babel, a winter wheat breeder with the University of Manitoba, reports this year's weather patterns were ideal for the fall-seeded cereal crops.

Dr Brûlé-Babel said: "From the standpoint of the fall-seeded cereals we had a very good winter survival so that was a plus despite the fact that we had little snow cover last year but they survived very well over the winter.

"We started out our spring with cool moist conditions which winter wheat thrives in and is able to take advantage of those conditions as soon as it comes out of the ground in the spring. From there, even though we had some dry periods, by the time we had the drought setting in in southern Manitoba we basically had the situation where winter wheat was past the stage where it was seriously affected, so as a result we have very good yields and good quality coming off of the winter wheat fields this year and we've had that type of condition that have allowed farmers to take advantage of that. The main advantage that the winter cereals have is that the majority of their development is during the cooler more moist conditions.

"As a result they are less likely to suffer from severe heat and drought. This year for example a lot of winter wheat was coming off already the third week of July and the crop was in good shape because we had hot dry conditions at that time with very little weathering as opposed to some spring crops where you may end up in a cool wet fall and makes it very difficult to harvest. The types of conditions we've had this year favor the winter cereals over the spring crops in general because the crop has escaped most of the hot dry conditions that have impacted the yields on the other crops."

Dr Brûlé-Babel acknowledges if we had had a hot dry spring, winter wheat would not have fared as well but diversifying the farm to include winter cereals does provide an opportunity to mitigate risk.

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