“My experience has been crops at the early stage of growth are quite vulnerable.”
– BOB WEI NS
It never rains but it pours, and depending on where you were on the weekend, it poured some more.
Most of agro-Manitoba received at least 23 mm of precipitation, with many areas getting 50 to 75 and some exceeding 120 (five inches) along with damaging winds and even hail between Thursday, May 26 and Sunday, May 30.
It left thousands of acres of fields under water.
Domain-area farmer Bob Weins said it will take seven to 10 days before farmers know the extent of crop damage. Based on past crop flooding, he’s not optimistic.
“My experience has been crops at the early stage of growth are quite vulnerable,” he said May 31.Rainfall estimates in his area range from 114 to 127 mm. “There will be major damage here,” he said.
About a quarter of the farmland in the southwest was under water after the storms dropped up to six inches in the region, said Scott Day, a Melitabased diversification specialist with Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Initiatives (MAFRI).
“The storm was massive,” he said. “The heaviest band of rain was from the U. S. border up west of Melita through Pierson and Tilston and then curved east through Reston, Pipestone, Oak Lake, Griswold and Alexander.”
Twenty to 25 per cent of the area is still unseeded, he said. Even if fields dry quickly, crop insurance seeding deadlines are looming. Although farmers can seed wheat until June 20, the deadlines for soybeans and canola are earlier.
Elm Creek had the most “official” rainfall– 120.2 mm (4.7 inches) – during those four days and 146 mm (5.75 inches) between May 24 and 30), according MAFRI.
Not far behind were Starbuck at 114.8 mm, Selkirk at 112 and Portage la Prairie at 111.
“Part of one of my fields has three feet of water on it,” said Doug Chorney who farms at East Selkirk. “We had water running over roads. It’s more than the ditches can handle.”
The Interlake, which has been so wet the past three years, received 35 to 77 mm. Farmers there are willing to pay extra on their municipal taxes to get improved drainage, Chorney said.
“It will take a few days to show, but there will be substantial damage worth millions of dollars without a doubt,” said KAP president Ian Wishart from his farm near Portage.
Crop insurance provides a reseeding benefit of 25 per cent of the coverage of the crop sown, said David Van Deynze, manager of claim services. Farmers don’t register a claim until they know what they want to do with a damaged crop. There’s also coverage on land too wet to seed.
“We’ll be ready to hit the ground when farmers decide what they want to do with their flooded crops,” Van Deynze said.
David Phillips, Environment Canada’s senior meteorologist, says the weekend storms were extraordinary in many ways, including how much rain fell and how long they lasted. Winnipeg, for example, had 13 hours of thunderstorms and normally gets 33 hours during a whole year.
“You just don’t normally see that,” he said. “Emerson had the second-wettest day ever for a whole year (May 29 at 93.2 mm).”
June is normally Manitoba’s wettest month, with Winnipeg averaging 90 mm. But as of May 29 Winnipeg had received 158 mm versus the average of 58. Depending on how much rain fell on Winnipeg Monday, this May will have been the second or third wettest on record.
Normally Winnipeg has 12 wet days in May, Phillips said. This May there were 11. That means when it did rain, there was a lot more falling than normal, he said.
Most of agro-Manitoba is a lot wetter than normal this growing season. According to MAFRI between April 15 and May 30 the eastern region received 218 to 235 per cent of normal precipitation.
It’s the same story, with a couple
Drenched: A field near Carman May 30.
of exceptions, in the central region.
Elm Creek, which received 262 mm between April 15 and May 30 (more than half the normal rainfall for an entire year), had 359 per cent of normal precipitation.
Even the southwest, which is often dry, has had twice as much rain as normal. [email protected]
May 24 to May 30, 2010
Based on rainfall recordings from Manitoba Agriculture,
Food and Rural Initiatives Ag-Weather Program and Environment Canada
Total Rain (mm) 31 -40 41 -50 51 -60 61 -70 71 -80 81 -90 91 -100 101 -110 111 -120 121 -130 131 -140 141 -150
A. Nadler, MAFRI