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Yield estimates reveal glaring discrepancy

Saskatchewan’s crops look better from the sky than they do from the ground.

Statistics Canada used satellite-based vegetative growth maps to determine crop yields in its August principal field crop estimates report published on Sept. 14.

By contrast, Saskatchewan Agriculture used a boots-on-the-ground approach to determine yields as of Sept. 5.

The different methodologies resulted in a sizable discrepancy, with the federal government’s forecast being substantially higher than the province’s for nearly every crop.

For instance, Statistics Canada’s hard red spring wheat, durum and canola estimates were higher by 4.8, 6.0 and 3.8 bushels per acre respectively. Using the province’s seeded acreage estimates, that would result in an extra 1.09 million tonnes of hard red spring wheat, 794,366 tonnes of durum and 981,957 tonnes of canola.

Those are market-moving numbers.

Barley and flax are the only two crops where the federal and provincial governments appear to be in lockstep.

Matthew Struthers, crops extension specialist with Saskatchewan Agriculture, is confident in the yield estimates compiled from 200 crop reporters scattered across the province.

“We get our information from crop reporters, so we get it from people right on the ground,” he said. “They do a great job and I stand with the information we have in the report.”

John Seay, unit head for Statistics Canada’s crop reporting unit, is equally convinced about the accuracy of his numbers.

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