Intermittent snow flurries, mixed precipitation, and cold and cloudy weather has slowed harvest progress. Some snow accumulations creating small snowbanks in windrows and field edges is postponing harvest until melted. North of PTH 45, producers are reporting snow on swaths did not melt and are waiting for good weather conditions to finish harvest. Some producers are trying to flip swaths to improve drying. In southern parts of the region, excessive moisture is restricting access to fields or some fields are too wet for equipment in general. Freezing temperatures and sunny weather expected this month might make these fields passable and harvestable with less risk of becoming stuck.
Progress occurring in corn, soybean and some sunflowers. There is some ongoing cleanup in canola fields as ground freezes, allowing low spots to be harvested.
Corn is testing 25 to 35 per cent moisture. Sunflowers are tough, but harvestable and great quality; some sclerotinia head rot affecting 3 to 5 per cent of heads. Sunflowers yielding over 2300 lbs/ac. Dry beans remain in some fields near Boissevain, covered in some snow and testing 25 per cent.
Farmers are finding it hard to justify the economics of drying tough or wet crops, particularly low quality wheat or very high moisture corn, and some are looking for alternative end-uses for the crop.
Areas along PTH 10, near Rossburn, and south of Riding Mountain National Park have significant amounts of crop still in the fields for this time of year, with about 25 per cent of harvest still to go in these areas. Oats have fallen down, wheat is showing mixed lodging to being flat. Canola remaining is mostly swathed, but wind blown and in low spots. Soybeans are faring better, and standing, though some snow accumulations found in spots.
Most producers have moved cows closer to the winter-feeding areas. Some cows remain on corn stover, in alfalfa stands, oat regrowth stands, corn stover and pastures. Water supplies are freezing over early. Several producers have begun feeding cattle as well. Farmers are still working on storing up winter feed supplies, silage and baling up greenfeed, mostly unharvested wheat and barley. Cold evenings have frozen over sloughs and dugouts; making water access for animals is an issue in some areas.
Some limited harvest operations took place over the weekend in areas where snowmelt occurred, however most areas in the Northwest region are snow covered at this point.
Spring wheat harvest is approximately 99 per cent complete in all parts of the region. Canola harvest is 99 per cent complete at Roblin, The Pas, and Swan River with Dauphin and south of Roblin estimated at 95 per cent. Canola yields range from 50 to 70 bu/ac.
Soybean harvest at Roblin and Swan River is virtually complete; around Dauphin soybeans are 90 per cent complete. Soybeans combined last week came off at high moisture; yields ranged from 25 to 35 bu/ac in Swan River; 33 to 41 bu/ac at Roblin. The harvest of flax is virtually complete in Swan River and Roblin.
Producers are still looking for alternatives to save their winter feed supply due to having to feed earlier than anticipated with the last snowfall. Many producers are looking at options to utilize annual regrowth, but nitrates are high to very high on feed tests coming back from the lab. Corn silage harvest continued with good progress due to favorable weather conditions. Some mould is showing up in corn crops with the recent moisture. Some cattle remain on pastures with little to no residue, which will hamper spring growth next year. Hay production has been 30 to 50 per cent of normal. Many producers were counting on getting a second cut but environmental conditions have prevented that from happening; the second cut has been a write- off. Freezing temperatures have made it more conducive for field travel now and getting winter feed supplied to the winter feeding yards. The majority of cattle herds have been moved back home or to wintering sites for feeding.
Dry cold conditions prevailed during the week with freezing overnight temperatures provided improved crop drying conditions. Snow remains in parts of fields and ditches. Precipitation was minimal during the week except for some light scattered snowfalls.
Harvest progressed for crops that remain in the field but growers have to be selective of the fields they choose to harvest and carry machinery. Many fields are partially harvested leaving excessively wet areas alone. Field conditions are very challenging, muddy and fields are being rutted up as farmers struggle to continue harvesting. Growers are hoping to continue harvesting as fields freeze and can carry equipment. Forecast this week is for day and night sub-zero temperatures and low risk of precipitation.
Overall harvest estimated at 96 per cent complete with mostly soybeans, corn, sunflower, some flax and canola west of the escarpment. Flax samples of what remains in fields has been found to be moldy and considered not marketable. Those remaining acres expected to be destroyed. Consequently, flax straw is in short supply this fall for processors.
Tillage, fertilizing operations and manure applications took place this week as field conditions improved somewhat.
Corn harvest progressed with about 50 to 70 per cent done depending on the area. Corn harvest is more advanced in the Red River Valley with yield reports in the 130 to 160 bu/ac range. Moisture content still reported high in the 25 to 30 per cent range to higher and requires considerable drying time.
Soybean harvest progressed this week varying from 70 per cent done in the Altona area to 85 per cent west of the escarpment and higher in the Carman area. Soybean yields reported west of the escarpment on recently harvested fields ranges from 30 to 60 bu/ac, good seed quality but tough. Yields range from 18 to 40 bu/ac in the Altona area. Sunflower harvest progressed with 50 per cent of harvest done west of the escarpment to as much as 80 per cent in the Altona area. Sunflower yields were reported at 1600 to 2000 lbs/ac.
Dry bean harvest 70 to 80 per cent complete. There are beans that will still be worth harvesting this week. Some of the dry bean crop has been written off due to poor quality, having been lodged on lying on the soil surface. Yields range from 1000 to 1500 lbs/ac. Overall quality much lower than average. Most of the remaining crop west of the escarpment is considered not worth harvesting due to mouldy grain.
Canola harvest is about 98 per cent done in the region with most acres remaining west of the escarpment. Swaths in canola fields have been pushed deeper into the stubble from the snow suffers from sprouting damage and slow to dry. Harvest of many of those remaining fields is questionable. Standing canola fields have lodged severely from the recent snow and harvest is difficult but possible using pick up reels and lifters on combine headers. Seed moisture content of those later harvested canola fields is considered dry.
Commercial potato harvest is mostly done in the Carman area but incomplete further west. Many fields may not be harvested. There are and will be storage issues given the challenging harvest conditions.
Cattle are being rounded up from pasture and brought home and put on winter feed. Calves are being weaned, backgrounded or marketed or those still on pasture are being creep fed grain.
Cattle still grazing are either on stockpiled forage regrowth on pasture or on second or third cut hay fields.
Corn silage harvest continues but the corn is starting to get dry, which makes packing a challenge. Freezing temperatures are firming up wet hay fields and cattle yards, which is helping to move feed, cattle or manure. Livestock producers are having trouble being able to bale additional feed. Greenfeed is showing signs of nitrates because of either dry growing conditions or frost stress.
Over the last week, 2 to 4 mm precipitation occurred across the Eastern Region in the form of daily light snowfalls. Daytime and overnight temperatures were below freezing, which firmed up the ground to a greater degree than in previous weeks. This allowed for better combine travel and header flotation although significant field rutting still occurred. Frequent snowfalls led to snow ingestion by combines with sieves or other components freezing up. Some harvesting time was lost with combines requiring thawing time in heated shops before returning to the field.
Harvest progress was slow but steady in soybeans and, to a lesser degree, in corn. Harvested crop was tough with grain dryers and aeration systems used extensively. Limited dryer capacity restricted the pace of harvest, particularly in corn. Producers were encouraged by the freezing temperatures experienced and with the forecast of even colder temperatures in the coming weeks.
Wheat, oats and canola harvest was almost complete with most unharvested acres in northern districts. No notable harvest progress was made with these crops as producers focused on getting their soybeans in.
Soybean harvest was about 70 per cent complete. Average yield was about 35 bu/ac with mostly good quality. Sunflower harvest was about 65 per cent complete with little progress made. Yields for oils and confectionary types were around 3000 lbs/ac with good quality but the loss of heads due to head rot remained a significant concern.
Corn silage harvesting was ongoing with silage being cut on the dry side at around 45 per cent moisture. Corn silage harvest was approximately 75 per cent complete with yields of 15 to 20 tons/acre. About 35 per cent of grain corn acres were harvested but grain moistures were high with significant drying required. Yields ranged from 100 to 150 bu/ac with reports of low bushel weights. Overall harvest progress for the region was about 80 per cent complete with northern districts of the Eastern region having made the least progress.
Harvest has resumed in soybeans and corn, wherever field access was possible, particularly on frozen or frosted ground.
Based on experience from previous years, some farmers are delaying soybean and corn harvest, instead choosing to wait until hard frosts and subzero daytime temperatures will support machinery traffic and prevent rutting.
Harvest progress is estimated at 85 to 90 per cent complete for the region, with some areas higher. Yields are highly variable, but much has come in at average to slightly below average.
Farms that have been unable to harvest their cereals are contemplating crop destruction or baling, since crops will likely not be harvestable in spring. A few fields have been taken as a late greenfeed source.
Canola harvest is estimated at 90 per cent complete. Producers have resumed harvest in soybeans and some grain corn. Reports are that some farms have nearly all acres still to go, while a few have finished up. Many have not started due to poor field conditions and some longer season varieties. T otal acres complete for the region are about 70 per cent.
Silage and grain corn harvest are each about 65 per cent complete. Much of the crop is still at high moisture levels. Early yield reports are below average, at 100 to 120 bu/acre.
Tillage operations have virtually ceased with soils becoming frozen to greater depths in the southern districts, and anhydrous ammonia application has stopped. Some granular fertilizer has been applied and harrowed in, but input retailers are expecting a busier spring for fertilizer applications.
Pasture and forage fields are rated as 99 per cent in poor condition, having been heavily regrazed after the fall green-up. Pasture moisture conditions are rated as 50 per cent adequate, 50 per cent short. Hayfields in the north Interlake in particular have absorbed most available water.
Cattle are being removed from pasture where possible; others are waiting for yards to dry up prior to bringing cattle herds home for full winter-feeding. Winter feed stocks for hay are rated as 0 per cent adequate; for greenfeed and feed grain are 50 per cent adequate, and 30 per cent adequate or 70 per cent inadequate for straw stocks.