Organic crops heading for a good year

The organic winter wheat and fall rye harvest is underway in Ontario. Photo: Allan Dawson/File

By Glen Hallick
Glacier FarmMedia staff

Organic crops are looking very good right now, according to crop specialists in Ontario, Manitoba and Saskatchewan.

“Rainfall has been spotty across [Ontario], but for the most part crops are looking pretty good,” commented Rob Wallbridge, agronomy sales lead for Sure Source Commodities in Petrolia, Ont. He noted there are a few pockets of drought in the province.

Wallbridge said harvesting of organic winter wheat and fall rye was already underway, while spring cereals had just started in the southern most parts of Ontario. He added that the development of soybeans and corn was promising, and black beans were looking good.

The crops [in Manitoba] look surprisingly well. – Laura Telford

The good condition of Ontario’s organic crops had some help, as “weed control has been relatively easy this year because of the drier weather,” Wallbridge said.

The harvest on the Prairies has yet to begin, but organic crops are in a good position, according to Laura Telford, organic sector development specialist with Manitoba Agriculture.

“Although things can still happen of course,” she heeded, noting that issues with disease and insect can still occur.

“The crops [in Manitoba] look surprisingly well. There were reports of some weedy fields that were plowed down and reseeded before the deadlines,” commented Telford, who recently was on a crop tour in the province.

She explained that seedbed preparation in the fall is particularly important as it helps to impede weed growth during the following year and in turn, affecting crop yields. The heavy dump of snow southern Manitoba received at Thanksgiving could have stymied farmers from getting some of that important work completed. Despite that, weeds haven’t been a major issue in 2020.

In Saskatchewan, organic crops were looking much better this year compared to 2019, said Dunling Wang, an organic specialist with Saskatchewan Agriculture.

He added that pests have only been a problem in a few areas of the province.

Just back from a crop tour in Saskatchewan, Wang said the fall rye and winter wheat were turning colour, signalling that the start of harvest was a couple of weeks away. He noted that the development of spring cereals, along with oilseeds and pulses was also normal at this point.

With harvest soon to start in earnest, wheat prices were presently C$11 to C$14 per bushel depending on the province, with feed wheat at half the amount. Barley was $6 to $6.50/bu. on the Prairies and about C$8.40/bu. for malting barley in Ontario.

Milling oats topped out at C$6.50/bu. Lentils ranged from 75 to 80 cents per pound for green, to C$1 to C$1.15/lbs. for black. Ontario soybeans were C$28/bu. for food and C$23/bu. for feed.

One buyer stressed that prices will begin to fluctuate as the harvest progresses.