Rains slows Manitoba harvest

Rain and cool temperatures are expected in Manitoba over the next week, further delaying a harvest that is already behind normal.

Many regions of Manitoba received 50 to 100 millimetres of rainfall last weekend, putting the brakes on combines and stalling harvest progress.

Across the province the harvest of cereal, pulse and oilseed crops is about 60 percent complete, Manitoba Agriculture said in its Sept. 24 crop report.

But in certain regions, the percentage is much lower.

“If you look at spring wheat at 86 percent complete (in the province )… I would say that in the southwest and northwest regions, our spring wheat harvest is probably in that 60 to 65 percent range,” Lionel Kaskiw, a Manitoba Agriculture crop production adviser in Souris, Man., said this morning during a webinar.

Frequent rains in September have recharged soil moisture in Manitoba, but wet crops and soggy fields have made for a difficult harvest season.

In a more typical year, most producers combine their soybeans in the last 10 days of September. As of yesterday, only five percent of Manitoba’s soybeans were harvested, well behind the normal progress of 30 percent.

“I haven’t heard of many people harvesting flax or soybeans … for the southwest and northwest regions,” Kaskiw said.

It is the last week of September, so producers are taking every opportunity to get combines in the field, even if conditions are less than ideal.

“Guys are trying to find the driest field to go on … and find a field where you can do something with the grain, whether it is aerating it down (for moisture content) or grain drying,” Kaskiw said. “We’ve been getting quite a few questions regarding grain drying.”

On the positive side, standing canola is drying relatively quickly following the 50 to 100 mm of rain on Sept. 20-21.

Consequently, producers in western Manitoba are moving their combines from cereal crops to canola fields, Kaskiw said.

“The producers are (commenting) that the canola is the driest (crop) that they’ve been able to find. A lot of that is 11 or 12 (percent moisture),” he said. “If it was in a swath it would still be too wet to (combine).”

Spring wheat crops, particularly those lying in a swath, are deteriorating. Mildew and sprouting are appearing on the spring wheat, and the crop will likely be downgraded at the elevator.

The lower quality crops could help out cattle producers, especially those in the Westlake and Interlake regions, who are short on feed supplies for the winter.

“I’ve been getting some calls regarding baling and round bale silage,” Kaskiw said. “But the swaths are fairly wet and we just need some good drying weather.”

Contact robert.arnason@producer.com

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