Wires

CORRECTED-Snow to stall wheat, canola harvest in Canada, Montana

Julie Ingwersen

(In 5th paragraph, corrects Montana's spring wheat harvest progress to 80% complete, not 85%)

CHICAGO, Sept 27 (Reuters) - A weekend storm is poised to bring more than a foot (30.5 cm) of snow to parts of Montana and the Canadian prairies, putting portions of the region's spring wheat and canola crops at risk, a meteorologist said.

Excessively wet conditions in the region this month have already slowed fieldwork and hurt spring wheat quality on both sides of the border.

Snow is expected to fall from Saturday night through Monday, dumping four to 12 inches (10 to 30 cm) broadly across southern Alberta and southwest Saskatchewan. A few areas close to the U.S. border are likely to receive 18 inches through Monday, said Nick Vita, a meteorologist with the Commodity Weather Group.

"We're thinking about 10 to 15 percent of the Canadian spring wheat and canola is at risk to see 5 to 10 percent losses due to lodging from the snow," said Vita. Lodging occurs when plants get knocked over, making them difficult to harvest.

Montana's spring wheat harvest was 80% complete by Sept. 22, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said, limiting the amount of crops still vulnerable to the weather there.

The harvest is less advanced in Canada. Farmers had gathered 31% of Saskatchewan's spring wheat and 17% of its canola as of Sept. 23, the province said in a weekly report. Harvest progress for all crops in the province totaled 39%, well behind the five-year average pace of 62%.

"We are expecting drier weather to return no later than the middle of next week," Vita said. "So the snow should melt ... But harvest will be slow to recover," he said.

(Reporting by Julie Ingwersen Editing by Bill Berkrot)