Cereal crop harvest rapidly progressing, canola yields expected to fall to 10-year lows

Manitoba Crop Report and Crop Weather report for August 17

Southwest Region

This past week saw daytime highs reach 38 C; daily averages around 17 to 19 C. Minimum overnight temperatures were down to 0.5 to 7 C. Not much rain during the week, Humidity levels remain high overnight. Most of the Southwest region experienced heavy smoke for the last two days. All areas are short on moisture, particularly the northern parts of the region. Total rainfall accumulations to date are 60 to 90% of normal arriving in a few thundershower events and the majority of crops missed moisture during critical development stages. Daytime wilting is evident in longer season crops; some do not recover overnight. Topsoil moisture is minimal. 

Harvest is estimated at as much as 5% complete. Early yield reports of 55 to 65 bu/ac winter wheat and 65 to 75 bu/ac hybrid fall rye. 

All cereals have rapidly advanced, with the heat and drier conditions; premature ripening is evident in the driest areas. Harvest is well underway, with early barley yields at 50 to 90 bu/acre. Spring wheat is yielding 40 to 60 bu/acre, while oats are coming in at 60 to 80 bu/acre. Good quality and test weight are reported in much of the harvested cereals. Swathing continues, but a majority of fields will be straight cut. Most fields are short, and the smaller volume of swaths makes combining a challenge. Late tillering is a concern in some oats and wheat; either swathing or pre-harvest may be necessary for these fields. Some will let the crop stand, possible with the extended dry conditions.

Pea harvesting continues, and pea yields are reported in the 35 to 45 bu/ac range. Flax fields are showing colour change. Swathing has started in some canola; the majority will be straight cut this year. 

In the driest areas, pod fill at the top portion of the plants is poor. Later seeded and re-seeded canola is podded out. 

Crop yields are variable and highly dependent on where the rains fell. Crop on heavier textured fields have more moisture available to them and has dried out on sandy ridges, evident in cereals, canola, and soybeans. Most crops are stagey and shorter than normal. Short cereal fields have the problem of not enough straw for an adequate swath; some may have to switch to straight cut. 

Most soybeans have advanced to R5 to R6.5 stage. The majority of fields look good, but daytime wilting in most fields indicates a lack of moisture; overnight recovery has diminished. Pod set has been good, but rains will be needed to fill properly. Top pods are drying off. In some cases, fields are yellowing, drying down prematurely. 

Sunflowers are near the end of flowering. Corn continues to advance; dry conditions are a concern for final yield. Cobs formed have fewer rows than average. Rain forecast this week would benefit grain fill in all these longer-season crops. 

Pasture condition and feed shortages continue to be an issue in the Southwest. Many producers have started to supplement cattle with feed and water on pasture. As pastures run out many producers are deciding on selling off cows. Feed supplies in most areas are about 50% of normal or less. Many producers are baling up as much straw as they can. 

Northwest Region

Generally cooler temperatures throughout the week across the region with overnight temperatures dipping below 5 C early Friday morning. Inglis reached down to 0.7 for a short period. The weekend brought back extremely high temperatures with Swan River reaching 36 C. Overnight temperatures are cooling resulting in heavy morning dew. The southeastern portion of the region received precipitation with Alonsa receiving 46 mm, while the rest of the region received minimal precipitation. High temperatures this season, along with lack of precipitation have advanced crops quickly as they head to maturity. The lack of precipitation remains apparent and a large concern as water sources and soil moisture continue to be depleted. 

Harvest in field peas continues full swing in the Swan River region while the rest of the region is completed. Yields have been lower and range from 35 to 40 bu/ac for most of the region and of average quality so far. 

Spring wheat harvest is underway, with desiccation ongoing as staging is reached. Early wheat yields range from 40 to 60 bu/ac. About 60% of the spring wheat is rated as good. In The Pas, spring wheat is in the hard dough stage and some early crops have begun desiccation. Some barley and oats have been harvested. No reports of yield as of yet. Winter cereals are harvested and early yield reports are at 40 to 60 bu/acre. 

Canola is variable in staging and condition. Most of the canola is podded and ripening. Some of the earliest canola has begun swathing/desiccation. About 50% of the canola is rated as good, while the remainder would be fair/poor. Sunscald and heat blast is evident in most canola with the recent high temperatures. 

Soybeans across the region are at the R4- R5 stage with the more advanced crops in the southern part of the region. Those crops that received some timely precipitation will be of better condition. 

Grasshoppers continue to be a concern across the Northwest region. Some lygus control in canola was warranted in the Swan Valley last week as numbers exceeded threshold. Late season flea beetles have also become a concern. 

Forage condition continues to decline with the continuing hot and dry conditions. Harvest is ongoing with many producers baling up straw and slough hay where they can find it. Pastures have minimal to no regrowth where cattle have been continuously grazed. Many water sources have been depleted, particularly on the eastern side of the region and grasshoppers continue to be a problem. Herd culling continues, as feed shortages will be common. Many are hoping that corn silage crops will continue to develop to be a good source of feed later this season. 

Central Region

Rain and cooler temperatures beginning this week quickly shifted to well above normal temperatures into the record-breaking range over the weekend. Mid-week daytime high temperatures dipped as low as below 20 C but ramped up to a high of 37 C on the weekend to Monday. Last week’s rain was rapidly absorbed by the dry soils and benefitted late maturing crops most. Humidity and haze was reduced at first but increased along with the warming temperatures making physical work uncomfortable. Dews continue to be light to none on warmest nights allowing for long harvesting days. Winds were generally moderate this week with changing direction driving temperature changes. 

Soil moisture improved from the recent rains but remains poor where rainfall was least to good in areas with most rainfall. Harvest operations resumed mid-week and continued through the weekend with the warm sunny conditions. Forecast for the next seven days for is warm and dry to start turning to many consecutive days of rain shower activity. 

Harvest of fall rye and winter wheat is considered complete. Yield reports for rye is in the 60 to 80 bu/ac range with good grain quality reported. Wheat, oats and barley are coming off rapidly with many fields drying down without harvest management products applied. Spring wheat harvest is most advanced in the Red River Valley but still progressing west of the escarpment with 60 to 70% done. Yields vary widely according to soil type and moisture conditions. Yields range from 20 to 70 bu/ac, averaging in the mid 40’s. Higher protein levels in the 14 to 16% range are common, and low to no fusarium damaged kernels (FDK) in the samples. 

Barley harvest is also underway with about 85% done and yield reports from 50 to 100 bu/ac but averaging in the middle of that range. Whatever straw is available is being baled quickly with lots of trucks on the road moving bales. Oat harvest continues at 75% done and yields vary widely from 40 to 140 bu/acre depending on soil type and moisture conditions. Most cereal fields are ripe and good progress is expected in the coming days before the forecasted rain. 

Field peas harvest is considered done. Yields are reported from 20 to 65 bu/acre. 

Canola fields are done flowering with some harvested started in the more advanced fields. The occasional field is swathed while others are left to stand for direct harvest having pod shatter resistance and/or short stature. Poor yields reported of early fields and poorer stands with 10 bu/ac yields in the south central part of the region where moisture conditions were worse. Yield expectations vary greatly as some fields will be near normal having good growth and others very short, thin and very poor pod development. Grasshopper feeding requiring control measures being applied to edge of fields in some locations. Heavy populations of flea beetles noticed on some canola fields as they mature requiring control measures to stressed crops. Flax fields are turning to already ripe with harvest expected to start soon. No flax harvest reported to date. 

Soybeans are in the full seed stage (R6) with some fields starting to dry off in more stressed parts of fields. Recent precipitation should benefit this late maturing crop while still in the seed filling stage. 

Dry edible beans in the Treherne to Portage area look good with near average yield expectations while fields in the south central part of the region are looking fair with below average yield expectations in the 800 to 1200 lbs/ac range. All bean crops are showing drought stress symptoms, with leaves flipping and sometimes not recovering overnight. 

Corn growth varies with moisture conditions. Better growing and developed cornfields are in the milk stage and filling. Recent precipitation should benefit corn crops but yield potential has already been affected by the prolonged dry conditions. Many fields in the Red River Valley in particular show evidence of severe moisture deficit and varying plant height across fields. A number of fields have been written off. Some are offered as cattle feed but there is concern with nitrates before grazing, ensiling or baling those fields. 

Sunflower stands are relatively short. This most recent rain benefits stands with seed filling. The lack of moisture has limited growth and development of those fields. Flowering is complete with fields in the seed filling stage (R6 to R7). 

Many fields are thin, and weeds towering above late maturing and stressed crops. 

Moisture conditions improved slightly after last weeks rain but quickly declined with the heat. Adult grasshoppers are actively feeding in pasture, hayfields and crops that are greener. Extra straw is being baled for livestock feed. Most hay fields and pastures have stopped growing and have turned brown. Where rains were better there is some forage regrowth. Cattle are being supplemented on pasture where forage growth is lacking. Water availability is dropping and surface supply is getting poorer in quantity and quality. Many pastures only have forage to graze in the bush or low-lying areas where moisture was better. 

Eastern Region

Even though there was a rainfall at the start of last week, soil conditions remain dry to very dry. Ongoing impacts from drought conditions continue. Recent rainfall will help preserve yield potential in late season crops, particularly soybeans and sunflower with corn benefitting less. 

Calls about two spotted spider mites in soybeans continued but rainfall at the start of last week did slow down the pest’s progress. Most infestations were limited to small areas of field edges with most of the crop well into R6 (full pod stage). 

Pre-harvest intervals on insecticides registered for control of the pest were also a factor growers were considering. Some other symptoms caused by the dry conditions were being confused for spider mite damage. High numbers of grasshoppers present in fields were noted by many agronomists but an accompanying high level of crops damage was not being found with the focus being particularly on long season crops that are still seed filling. Concern about late season flea beetle infestations by themselves or in combination with other pests like lygus bugs continued with some insecticide applications still occurring. 

Winter cereal harvest made good progress with many producers completed. Winter wheat yield reports varied from 50 to 80 bu/ac on whole field basis with light soil areas doing as low as 30 bu/acre. Good seed quality and test weight were noted. Fall rye yields were highly variable in fields in correlation with soil types. Yields ranging from 50 to 90 bu/ac across fields with whole fields averaging out in that 70 to 80 bu/ac range. 

Spring wheat harvest continued this past week with good progress made with an estimated 50% of acres harvested. All of the crop harvest ready or just about. Grain drying continues in cases where it allows progress. Yield reports ranged from 45 to 70 bu/acre with reports indicated good quality and bushel weights. Spring wheat yields better than expected given the drought overall. 

Oats yields still disappointing overall but some better yield reports came in this week. Yield reports ranged from 50 to 100 bu/acre with 70 bu/acre and light bushel weights common. Oats harvest progress amongst producers ranged from about 50% done to complete. Some 40lb bushel weights now showing up after lots of 37lb samples. 

The first canola fields are being straight cut, and a very limited harvest has begun. Lots of pre- harvest desiccant going on. No yield or quality reports to date. 

The flax crop continues to move to maturity ahead of schedule with bolls and stems continuing to brown up. Expectations of below average yield continue given how poorly the crop handled drought stress. All stands have areas that simply dried out instead of completing filling and going through a regular maturity process. 

Soybeans have reached R6 everywhere and perked up after the rains. Producers are hoping for more rain as in forecast to ensure seed size and completion of pod filling. Many farmers are watching the uppermost pods to see if they will survive and fill. 

Corn has reached the milk to blister stage (R1 to R2). The crop is not showing curling leaf stress symptoms right now because of recent rain, but the crop is still short and cobs range from smaller than average to average sized. Unfertilized tips of cobs in some fields now starting to be evident. Expectations for corn crop are below average yields at this time. 

Sunflower are in R6 with seed filling continuing and heads starting to droop. Crop condition still looks good overall. 

Hay and pasture conditions continued to worsen. Beef producers continued with second cut with lots of variability in progress from producer to producer and many acres not having a second cut because of lack of growth. Yields continued to be in that 10 to under 25% of normal range. Cutting of oat and barley fields for silage or greenfeed continued and baling of straw was widespread. Pasture conditions remained very poor with supplementary or full feeding on pasture continuing. Cattle herds continued to be culled with animals being shipped to market. Recent rainfall is not expected to improve the hay and pasture situation significantly because it came too late. Producers in areas that received higher rainfall amounts are hoping river and dugout levels rise. Water supply still adequate but only because producers are taking measures to deal with dry dugouts and river levels dropping to where pumping is impossible. Many new wells are being drilled or scheduled to be drilled. Most areas in northern districts have accessible ground water or could drill well if cost- effective options like dugout and river pumping cease. 

Interlake Region

Spring cereal harvest is getting close to complete, with many areas over 70% done. Yields are below average for all crops. Wheat yields range from 20 to 60 bu/acre, averaging in the low between 30 to 35 bu/acre. Many crops have fewer spikelets than normal, and kernel size is smaller. 

Oats are typically yielding 50 to 80 bu/ac in the south Interlake area; most oats is lightweight. Many oat crops were already cut and baled off for greenfeed. Barley has been yielding between 20 to 80 bu/ac, averaging mid-40’s. 

Cereal straw is in high demand, and all straw is being dropped and baled behind combines and harvest progresses. 

Canola crops are being desiccated where necessary, many are saving input costs where possible and will direct harvest beginning later this week. Reseeded fields are still somewhat green and will be ready later in the month. 

Soybeans, sunflowers, and corn crops are still green, but have stopped actively growing. All three crops remain much shorter than normal, with less anticipated yield. Rainfall did not arrive in significant quantities over the southern Interlake, and may have been too late in the northern districts to continue with soybean pod fill. 

Sunflower crops are highly variable; some are quite short, while others appear in better condition with larger head size. Insecticide application on those crops has been limited, and farmers are hesitant to spend additional dollars on crop protection when yields are expected to be down.

For more content related to drought management visit The Dry Times, where you can find a collection of stories from our family of publications as well as links to external resources to support your decisions through these difficult times.

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