Drought situation sees crop yield outlook diminish

Manitoba Crop Report and Crop Weather report for July 20

Southwest Region

Temperatures were hot most of the week, with daytime highs in the low 30 C range. Overnight lows ranged from 8 to 13 C, with average temperatures of 20 to 22.5 C. Crop growth has improved with rain, warmer temperatures, and high humidity. Rainfall ranged from 2 to 25 mm, with some areas seeing as much as 30 to 55 mm in thundershowers. A storm touched down a localized area of northwest of Birtle bringing 160 mm rain and hail; reports of crop damage in that area. There are some reports of hail damage to crops in the Melita area as well. Any precipitation is welcome and all areas, particularly the northwest and eastern parts of the region, remain short for moisture. Regular rains will be necessary to take crops to harvest. Some crops still hang on from shower to shower. Growing degree-days and corn heat units are close to normal. Precipitation continues to be below normal, ranging from 65 to 88% of normal. Topsoil moisture is currently adequate for 60 to 70% of the crops and short to very short for the remaining acres. 

Rains will help with grain fill. Almost all crops are shorter than normal, and a majority of crops have suffered from dry conditions. Staginess is evident in all crops. Stands are poor in areas of the lowest rainfall, but much of the region is hopeful for average yields in most crops. 

Winter cereals are starting to be desiccated, with about 80% at hard dough stage and low fusarium levels. Ergot levels are also very low in fall rye. Spring cereals are also turning very quickly due to hot and humid weather conditions. Most early seeded fields are at the soft dough stage. Late seeded fields are also coming along well. Fungicide application is 90% completed in spring wheat. There is a very low level of fusarium showing up in early seeded crops. 

Canola is at multiple stages. Early seeded canola is finishing flowering, while late and reseeded canola fields are in full bloom. The majority of the crop received a fungicide application. Continuous heat has negatively affected canola flowering. Bertha armyworm trap counts are still low in Southwest region but producers are advised to scout for bertha and diamondback moth. 

Field peas are podding well. The majority of the fields look good. Very few reports of pea aphids but no spraying yet. Producers have sprayed fungicides for diseases. Soybeans continue to look good, relative to other crops. Nearly 80% of soybean fields are at the R2 to R3 stage. There are some fields with grasshopper damage, but limited defoliation to date. Other leaf diseases are also at a low level depending on the field and moisture conditions. Nodulations are very good. 

Flax is in mid to late bloom. Grasshoppers are resting on the flowers and bolls. Flax tolerating drought better than other crops. Sunflowers are entering R4 flowering stage, with crops tolerating heat and lack of moisture well. Rust pustules starting to form on older leaves. Some grasshoppers on the emerging flower heads. 

Corn is in the pre- to early tassel stage. The crop is dark green, weathering drought fairly well, however, light sandy soils without rainfall are showing severe signs of stress. The crop has reached a critical stage for urgently needed moisture. 

Grasshoppers are being monitored closely, and some headlands and fields have received insecticide applications. 

First hay cut is nearly complete, with producers indicating below average yields with good quality. Moisture and grasshoppers remain the top concern for a second hay cut, and in a number of areas there will be no second cut. Producers are cutting sloughs and road allowances. 

High feed prices are also making things difficult for producers that may have to start supplemental feeding soon. Pastures are big concern as poor regrowth is going to limit fall grazing and grasshoppers are feeding on any green matter left. In some areas, producers are hauling water to pastures. 

Northwest Region

High temperatures continued for most of the preceding week. Smoky conditions from wildfires has led to air quality advisories. The smoke has reduced solar radiation, cooling air temperatures somewhat. Little to no precipitation across region this week. High temperatures continue to advance the crop quickly however also continuing to deplete soil moisture and cause crop stress. 

Winter wheat and fall rye are turning in the Roblin and Dauphin areas. Spring Wheat continues in the milk stage. Approximately 75% is in the milk stage and quickly moving towards soft dough stage, while the later seeded is catching up. Spring cereals for the region are rated at about 70% in good condition.

Canola remains variable across the region. While 50% is rated as good, the remainder of the crops are in poor/fair condition. Some canola has wrapped up the flowering stage and podded; yields are expected to be low in these crops. While later seeded canola in the Swan River/Roblin area received timely rainfall and continues to flower, looks to be in better shape. 

Field peas have wrapped up the flowering period and are podded and starting to mature. Approximately 55% of the crop in the Swan River/Roblin area is in good/excellent condition, while the rest of the field pea crop across the region is good/fair due to lack of moisture. 

Soybeans are in the R1 stage and continue to advance quickly through the heat. Soybeans are more advanced in the southern part of the region and timely rain would greatly benefit the soybean crop. 

Fungicide applications continue as crop stages/conditions allow. Bertha armyworm monitoring continues and counts remain below threshold concern. Grasshopper activity continues to be a big concern across the region as they move into annual crops where hay is being removed or requiring control in pastures. 

The majority of first cut hay fields have been harvested. Better yields on newer, well-fertilized stands particularly in the western side of the region have been reported but overall production will be below normal. Very little regrowth occurring and no second cut harvest is expected on the eastern side of the region. Annual crops are being harvested for greenfeed and silage. Pasture condition is deteriorating quickly particularly on overgrazed and continuously grazed sites. Water supply on pasture remains a concern for many producers. Producers continue to seek out alternative feeds to stretch out supplies for winter-feeding. 

Central Region

Isolated rainfall events bringing 15 to 20 mm in areas west of the escarpment midweek and some more isolated showers Monday in the southern part of the region but left much of the region without any meaningful rainfall. A haze of smoke and humidity shaded the region from forest fires in northeastern Manitoba. Temperatures started cool but warmed during the week peaking on Sunday with mid-30s daytime high and high humidity. Topsoil moisture is very poor to good in areas with recent rainfall but continues to deteriorate in areas without rainfall as crops extract whatever available moisture remains. Damage is already done for many crops in the region. Forecast is for chance of showers initially but mostly sunny and warm this week, likely to continue to stress crops and forage stands. 

Winter cereals and perennial ryegrass fields are nearly ripe. Harvest of earliest fall rye and winter wheat fields expected within the next week to ten days. Wheat, oats and barley are holding west of the escarpment where cooler temperatures and moisture conditions have been more favourable than in the Red River Valley and northern parts of the region. Cereal straw is expected to be limited in supply this season as crops are short and demand expected to be high given the poorer hay harvest. Development ranges from finishing flowering to near ripe in earliest cereal fields. Some aphid activity reported on wheat along with some of their natural predators. Wild oat patches are showing up towering above the crop in a number of fields. Pre- harvest product for perennial weed control and harvest management will begin soon as some crops are ripening rapidly. Yield estimates are between 40 to 55 bu/acre for spring wheat. 

Corn growth varies with moisture conditions and stage ranging from V8 to tasseling and ear development. Leaf rolling noticed on more and more fields suffering from moisture deficit stress as plants attempt to preserve moisture especially in the Red River Valley. Some fields are very short and their crop viability is questioned without rain in the immediate future. 

Field peas are looking fair to good with staging ranging from late flowering to almost ripe. Seedpod development is evident on many fields. 

Canola staging varies greatly from rosette to pod in the more advanced fields. Some fields remain quite stagey with plants bolting nearby other plants podded. Some insect control measures reported applied to canola fields in the southeast corner of the region for diamondback moth. 

Flax fields are short in stature, some still flowering and some in the boll stage. Sunflowers are tolerating the warmer temperatures. Staging is progressing into the reproductive stage ranging from bud to inflorescence opening (R2 to R4). 

Soybean fields are beginning pod to full pod (R3 to R4). Moisture requirement is high during flowering and seed development and therefore critical to these crops now. Soybean cyst nematode has been confirmed by in a soybean field in the RM of Thompson with above ground symptoms and visible cysts on roots. Growers should be scouting fields, especially stressed areas, for symptoms and presence of the pest by checking roots. 

Dry beans are generally looking good now with 20 to 40% flowering with fungicide applications happening in areas where crop yield potential is good and received recent moisture. 

Potato crops are in tuber formation, which is a critical time for supplemental irrigation. Currently late blight risk forecast suggests very low risk of disease due to hot and dry conditions. High aphid numbers (including potato aphid) were trapped at all seed production locations. European corn borer adults were trapped at higher numbers, and scouting for eggs and larvae should begin. 

Grasshoppers are a concern to crops in some areas and the crops are under stress. Control measures have been applied to field headlands in the southeastern part of the region. 

Haying progressed well with the dry conditions. Harvested quality is good to excellent but yields are below normal with older hay fields well below normal. Hay fields and pastures are browning off and there will be no second cut in the drier areas. Some oats is currently coming off as green feed and some barley fields will be too. Crops, hay and pasture conditions are deteriorating. Pastures are in better condition where there has been more rain. Overall existing growth is sufficient but declining for the grazing livestock so far but there is no new growth in many pastures. 

Eastern Region

Most of the region did not see any significant rainfall this week. Crop development continues to be pushed on at a rapid pace in the hot and dry conditions. Yield potential for wheat and canola has been affected and producers are expecting lower yields and decreased bushel weights. Corn, soybean and sunflowers would still benefit from some substantial timely rain. 

Winter cereals are in the ripening stage, harvest may begin as soon as this weekend. Spring cereals are in the early dough stage. Oats seems to be hardest hit by the moisture stress, with drier areas of fields beginning to prematurely dry down. 

Field Pea crops are in the pod fill stage with very low disease levels in upper and lower canopy. The peas continue to look flaccid in the heat with lower leaves drying up. 

Canola is at the 80% flower to pod set stage. The high heat has been hard on the canola; flower blast is expected to have yield implications. Plants are shorter than normal and the heat has effected the number of pods that have been set. Producers are expecting lower than average yields. 

Sunflowers are beginning to flower and are looking uneven as the result of moisture stresses. Flax is setting bolls, excessive flower drop was evident and drying up of lower leaves was observed. Soybean are at R3 (early pod set) to R4 (pods are 3⁄4” long at one of the four uppermost nodes on the main stem) on original and reseeded crop. Leaf flipping is still occurring in the heat of the day. Plants are in general shorter in stature than what we would normally expect but they appear to be hanging on. 

Corn is at the early tassel stage. Leaf curling due to lack of moisture was again noted this week, especially in the hot afternoons as the plants continue to hang on in the dry conditions. In general, the corn is looking uneven and “wavy” in the field as a result of the moisture stressed conditions. 

Producers continue to scout for grasshoppers but there has be limited spraying. Grasshopper numbers and damage levels have not been as high as expected. Aphids in wheat have again been noted but control options are be limited to pre-harvest intervals as the crop continues to mature. Potential soybean aphids and spider mites continue to be on producers minds. No reports of damage or insecticide applications have been reported. Producers continue to watch their fields closely for these potential pests. 

Corn silage acres showing signs of wilting in many areas. Some fields are looking ok that had some spotty thunderstorm activity bringing much needed moisture. Dairy producers are finishing second cut with low to just below average yields. Pasture is in poor condition with more and more dugouts drying up. 

Grasshoppers continue to be a major concern. Cattle on pasture are seeing increased pressure of foot rot and pinkeye. 

In northern parts of the region, dairy hay second cut is underway. Yields of 25% of normal have been reported. Lack of rainfall has not promoted good regrowth. For both dairy and beef hay, level of stand management and luck in getting timely rain from a few weeks ago remain the two most important factors determining hay yields. First cut tame beef hay is estimated at 60% of normal yields and wild hay yields are less than 50% of normal. Quality seen as fair/average. Pastures condition is poor with feeding continuing on pasture by some producers. Low hay yields have producers looking for extra forage to bale. Ditches and other grassed areas are being cut. Some producers are cutting oat and barley fields for silage. Additional acres of corn meant for grain production will be silaged as well. Dugouts remain empty or close to empty and pumping from rivers has proven very difficult because of low river levels. 

Interlake Region

Severe drought conditions continue across the Interlake, with four municipalities declaring a State of Agricultural Disaster over the past two weeks. . 

The majority of spring wheat and barley are in the turning colour and moving into hard dough stage. Oats also turning colour, but some fields are showing symptoms of heat blast, with whitened glumes. Some fields are being sprayed for grasshoppers if in close proximity to hay fields or grassland areas that are being cut and baled. More cereal crops are being turned into greenfeed due to poor grain yield potential and demand for fodder due very poor hay yields. 

Field peas are podding, and rapidly turning colour, moving from green to fully yellow in seven days. 

The majority of canola has finished blooming, and thin canopy architecture is evident. Later seeded fields are at full bloom, and heat blast has been noted on all crops. Crops are shorter than normal, with smaller pods, with grasshopper feeding pressure moving in from roadside ditches. 

Most sunflowers are reaching R1 stage, with bud development occurring in some cases. Flax crops range from finishing bloom to turning colour, bolls filling, but limited fill is expected given the drought severity. 

Soybeans are blooming, but with fewer branches than normal and much shorter. Farmers are expecting between 30 to 50% of normal yields. Lighter textured soil ridges are seeing soybeans browning off, while other spots are in fair condition. Corn is suffering from lack of moisture, remaining short and less developed, between V9 to V13, while some fields are beginning to tassel at V10. 

Hay yields quite poor; vary from 10 to 25% of normal. Age of stand, spring frosts fertility, insect pressure and drought all contributing factors. Pasture growth is not keeping up to livestock requirements, and up to 15% of hayland has not been cut because of no salvageable growth. Supplemental feeding on summer pastures occurring. Water wells being drilled and dugouts being deepened due to lack of drinking water for livestock.

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