MANITOBA, CANADA — Drought has badly damaged canola and wheat crops on Canada's prairies, but not as negatively as expected, despite its crop tour foreseeing the lowest wheat yields in eight years, said Canadian Wheat Board (CWB) on July 23.

CWB pegged the wheat harvest in Canada's prairies at 23.1million tonnes, well below the production of 27.2 million tonnes the region achieved last year according to official data.

For canola the group, the former grain export monopoly for Western Canada, estimated output at 12.49 million tonnes, compared with a 15.42-million-tonne prairies crop last year said

However, the figures represented improvements from the CWB's previous forecasts for wheat of 22.02 million tonnes, and for canola of 12.15million tonnes.

The upgrades followed a crop tour which pitched the yield for spring wheat, which accounts for the great majority of the prairies crop, at an eight-year low of 39.8 bushels per acre, down from a 2014 result of 45.7 bushels per acre.

The canola yield was estimated at a three-year low of 29.3 bushels per acre, below the 34.4 bushels per acre achieved last year.

The declines followed an unusually dry period for both Alberta and Saskatchewan parts of which received less than 40% of normal rain during April and May, although Manitoba farms have enjoyed better precipitation.

The durum markets continue to show strength as a result of dry conditions in Western Canada. Consequently, the durum production in Canada is expected to be below last year’s production levels but have improved quality. Similarly, the heat-wave that went through the durum regions in Europe resulted in a crop that is smaller but of better quality when compared to last year. The market continues to wait on further news of the Canadian crop development. In addition, wheat values have fallen so the durum premium has increased significantly. Overall, projected pool return values are higher.

"It's a bit of a miracle that some of these crops survived like they did," said CWB crop specialist Bruce Burnett, unveiling the findings of the tour.