Unsettled weather the previous week stopped harvest across the region; rainfall amounts ranged from 2 to 28 mm. Precipitation is welcome for pasture regrowth for fall grazing, and possibly some later-maturing corn, soybeans, and corn silage, but too late for most annual crops, greenfeed, and this year’s hay crops. Rains are welcome for sustaining forage stands, but a hurdle for annual crop harvest.
Rainfall accumulations for most of the region are 85 to 130% of normal for the growing season. Most rain has fallen outside critical window for crop yields. Soil moisture levels are low to optimum, even in areas receiving rains. This past week saw daytime temperatures of up to 21.7 to 24.9 C; daily averages around 12.1 to 15.5 C. Minimum overnight temperatures were down to 2.3 to 7.8 C.
Premature ripening due to dry conditions is evident in soybeans and corn.
Harvest is estimated at as much as 25 to 30% complete. Peas range from 95 to 100% complete, cereals 45 to 55% complete. Canola is just starting at 0 to 5% done. Yields are highly variable, but much is coming in at average to slightly below average. Premature ripening has been very evident in all crops. All crops have been stagey; some fields have been left standing for long periods to allow green areas to mature.
Spring cereals are ripe. Approximately 45 to 55% of the cereals crops in southern parts of the region are harvested. North of the TransCanada, barley is nearly complete, but very few acres of spring wheat done as grain was tough to wet. Wheat yields range from 30 to 45 bu/acre, while barley had done up to 75 bu/ac and oats from 40 to 80 bu/acre. Some lodging is visible in wheat and oat fields due to rains and strong winds. Producers are using grain dryers to condition the crop for long-term storage.
The bulk of canola harvest will start this week. Below average yields expected. More fields are swathed than normal, a few are desiccated.
The soybean crop is changing color as most of the crops are at the R7 stage. Some varieties and fields, which had timely moisture, have good yield potential.
Dry beans are reaching maturity, some already drying down. Desiccation could begin towards the end of this week.
Corn is in the dent stage, 25% milk-line, and silage making is imminent. Cobs are thinner and shorter than normal for this time. Corn will benefit from late rain to fill the potential of the cob.
Sunflower stages vary, with some late plants catching up and finishing flowering. This late rain will recover what yield potential is left, however the head size is noticeably smaller than average. Seed fill is surprisingly better than heat conditions might have indicated. Some grasshoppers and weevils are present around the heads. Average yields are expected. Some blackbirds to flock in fields, but flocks remain small and scattered for the time being.
Recent rain events continue to help the fall grazing pastures and have reduced some early fall feeding and water shortage situations. Most feed has been put up, except for corn silage and recent rain will help these crops fill but warm frost-free weather is needed to finish the crop. Still, several producers looking for ways reduce feed shortages as most areas reporting reduced yields. Recent rains have filled sloughs and got some streams running again, which will take pressure off the lack of water in some pastures. Dugouts are about 50 to 60% of full capacity.
Precipitation and heavy dew in the mornings made for a slower week of harvest progress across the Northwest region. Accumulated precipitation amounts were highest in the Roblin/Inglis and Fork River areas with 42 mm. Overnight temperatures later in the week dipped down between 1 to 2 C in some parts of the region, with Drifting River station reading 0.8 C. Recent precipitation has helped surface soil moisture; however, the subsoil moisture and water resources remain depleted.
Field Pea harvest is about 96% complete, with a few outstanding fields that were previously not ready for harvest.
With limited harvest over the past week due to wet weather, spring wheat is about 40 to 45% harvested across the region. Average yields for the region have been 40 to 60 bu/ac with better fields averaging 70-80 bu/acre. Yields in The Pas averaged 80 bu/acre.
Canola continues in variable staging and condition. Most of the canola is podded and ripening. Canola swathing and desiccation continues as stages are reached and conditions allow. Little to no canola has been harvested as of yet.
Soybeans across the region are in the R5 to R6 stage, with more advanced staging to the south and east part of the region.
Approximately 60% of the crop is in good condition while the remainder would be in fair condition. Fababeans and flax remain standing and continue to ripen.
Although recent rains have improved hay and pasture conditions, producers in the region will still be experiencing feed shortages. Securing additional feed has been challenging with low available supplies and higher prices. As weather conditions allow, producers are baling straw and harvesting the later seeded greenfeed. Cattle are starting to move home from community pastures. Sufficient livestock water supply remains a concern.
North and easterly winds kept weather conditions cool and cloudy this week, accompanied by rain; but clearing on the weekend. Harvest was at a standstill most of the week but resumed on Monday as temperatures warmed and sunny skies returned. Precipitation amounts varied from 4 mm in Snowflake along the International border to 32 mm in Deerwood just east of the escarpment. All other parts of the region received some precipitation. Soils have absorbed much of this rain, remaining moist to almost saturated in areas with highest rainfall. Humidity was high most days with heavy morning dews. Forecast this week is for average to below average temperatures and chance of showers mid week with a return to sunny dryer conditions for the rest of the week and weekend period.
With improved soil moisture, winter cereal planting started as crops were harvested on suitable fields.
Limited change in wheat, oats and barley harvest this week which is considered mostly complete in the Red River Valley but still progressing west of the escarpment with 90 to 95% done overall. West of the escarpment about 15 to 20% of the wheat remains to be harvested. Yields vary widely according to soil type and moisture conditions and reported in the 20 to 80 bu/ac range, higher protein levels from 14 to 16% and low to no fusarium damaged kernels in the samples so far. Some downgrading is expected on the unharvested wheat and oats from the recent period of rain and cloudy conditions. Barley and oats harvest is mostly wrapped up with about 95% done. Most available cereal straw has been baled and removed from fields. Little to no crop residue burning to date.
Most harvested fields have been harrowed, some tillage done with the improved topsoil moisture. With the favourable moisture conditions, volunteer grain growth is abundant. Perennial weed regrowth should also be stimulated from the recent rains and offer an opportunity to apply control measures ahead of next years growing season.
As with other crops, corn growth varies with moisture conditions. Better growing and developed cornfields are in the late milk stage and to hard dough and dented. Recent precipitation benefits corn crops with grain filling but yield potential for many fields has already been affected by the prolonged dry conditions.
Field pea harvest is done. Canola harvest is well underway with many fields swathed while others are left to stand for direct harvest having pod shatter resistance and/or short stature. Early reported yields range from 15 to 50 bushels per acre in the south central part of the region. Yield expectations vary greatly as some fields will be near normal having good growth while others very short, thin and poor pod development. Harvested grain quality is very good so far. Canola stem regrowth is a concern in some fields and may require desiccation to harvest the grain. Grasshopper feeding slowed with the recent cool wetter conditions. Flea beetle feeding noticed but slowed on some later maturing stressed canola fields.
Flax fields are turning colour rapidly or are already ripe with harvest started and earliest yield reports in the 15 to 25 bu/acre.
Soybeans are in the full seed stage (late R6 to some late R7). Some fields starting to dry off in more stressed parts of fields and earliest maturing varieties could be ready to harvest in 10 to 14 days. Recent precipitation is benefitting later- maturing crops still in the seed filling stage. Dry edible beans are changing fast and many fields are dropping leaves rapidly as they mature.
Sunflower stands are relatively short from the prolonged dry conditions. Recent rains will benefit stands with seed filling. Flowering is complete with back of the heads yellow in the R8 stage, some sclerotinia head rot observed. Blackbird feeding pressure is increasing, as flocks start to aggregate on field edges.
Potato crops benefitted from the recent rains and cooling temperatures. Harvest has started and direct hauling from the field for processing has been happening for the last week or so from western potato production areas. Yields have been fair to good. Other areas in the province will be starting after the first week in September. Disease concerns remain low.
The recent rain and cooler conditions has improved crop, pasture and forage conditions, and a late second cut may occur in some spots. Some late-seeded millet is heading out and yet to be harvested. The rains and sunshine will decrease nitrate levels in feed samples. Adult grasshoppers survived the rain and continue to feed on hay and pastures. Extra straw is being baled for livestock feed. Yields range from 0.5 to 4 round bales/acre. Second cut alfalfa and pastures are greening up and re-growing. The hay fields and pastures that were severely moisture stressed will take longer to recover. The recent rains came early enough that it will provide pasture for fall grazing and help later crops such as corn but winter feed supplies will still be short. Cattle will not require as much supplementation on pasture where forage growth was lacking. Water availability is improved but surface supply and quality is still low.
Rainfall accumulation region ranged from 5 to 20 mm last week. Temperatures continued to below seasonal as overcast skies with occasional showers dominated throughout the region. The majority of the rainfall fell between Thursday and Saturday as thunderstorms, heavy rain and showers, with significant variability between locations. Harvest progress was limited due to high humidity, stopping fieldwork and baling straw and hay. Most producers were happy to see continued rainfall but those with spring cereals left to harvest are concerned about quality losses in the unharvested crop. Most unharvested spring cereals will be downgraded to feed with sprouting as the main cause. Livestock producers view the rainfall as beneficial to hay, pasture recovery for next year, and may see some limited benefits for this season.
Spring wheat harvest stalled this past week due to the rain with an estimated 85% of acres harvested. Yield reports range from 45 to 70 bu/ac with reports indicated good quality and bushel weights. Wheat proteins ranging from 10.5 to just over 14%. Producers reporting that many buyers have implemented protein discounts. Oats yields have been disappointing overall, yield reports ranged from 50 to 100 bu/ac with 70 bu/acre bring average with light bushel weights. Oats harvest progress estimated at 85% complete.
Canola yield reports on limited acres harvested so far range from 10 to 35 bu/ac, averaging in the low 20 bu/ac mark. Canola pre-harvest desiccation was ongoing with most acres now sprayed. Lots of standing canola will be ready to harvest as soon as weather conditions permit. Some limited harvesting occurred over the last few days. Very early seeded fields have been harvested.
Soybeans continue to look better because of the recent rains. Most fields are now yellowing to some degree. Very early season varieties have dropped most leaves and are showing mostly brown pods. Soybean maturity seems to be moving along more normally across the region.
Sunflower have reached R7 (back of head is yellowing) to R8 (back of head yellow but bracts remain green). Sunflowers continued to look good although yield expectations are somewhat moderated because of variability in head sizes in the crop. So far, the rainfall has not resulted in any head degradation being observed.
Dented corn kernels are starting to show up on some fields, anything from milk to very early dent being found. Corn drought symptoms are now gone but cobs are noted as smaller than normal with unfilled cob ends and missing kernels. Seed pollination was affected by previous hot and dry weather.
Hay and pasture lands have started to show improvement this past week. Rainfall will help stands recover for better productivity next year. Winter survival was a significant concern given the poor condition of hay and pasturelands before rain arrived. Second cut is ongoing for beef producers. Some beef producers are delaying their second cut and sacrificing quality for potential increased tonnage because of recent rains. Some are cutting now and hoping for a third cut after the killing frost and critical fall harvest period. Dairy producers are into their third cut now and reporting higher yields than expected although still low compared to years that are more normal.
Producers continue to work at making sure they secure enough feed has meant lots of straw being baled, greenfeed opportunities were taken and more grain corn is going for silage. Corn silaging was ongoing this week in northern parts of the region, and will start further south start by the end of the week. Some canola crops that clearly were not setting seed were silaged in some cases.
Sporadic rains over the region this past week brought amounts up to 24 mm at Fisherton, and a low of 5 mm at Woodlands. Cool, cloudy days and higher humidity slowed harvest progress across the region, with some harvested crops coming off tough and put onto aeration.
Rains have softened soil surfaces, making machine movement over fields a challenge, and leaving mid- size ruts in some cases. Canola desiccation operations are the most noticeable tracks on fields. Some canola in swath, or is being cut this week, while the remainder of the crop is left standing for direct harvest. Many late-seeded canola fields remain green. Yields on early harvested canola range from 10 to 30 bu/ac, typically averaging 15 bu/acre. Yields above 30 bu/ac are considered ‘good’ by agronomists for 2021 in the region.
Spring cereal harvest sits at just over 80% complete, with many areas over 95% done. Yields are below average for all crops. Wheat yields range from 20 to 60 bu/acre, averaging between 35 to 40 bu/acre. Protein ranges from 13 to 17%. It is expected that much of the unharvested crop to date will be feed quality.
Cereal and canola straw is in high demand, and all straw is being dropped and baled behind combines and harvest progresses.
Flax crops look poor, and have not filled bolls completely. Soybean crops are beginning to turn colour, but leaf drop has been limited by rainfall. Salinity, phytophthora and drought has killed off portions of some soybean fields.
Sunflower crops are very short, but heads are filling nicely. Some ray petals remain on crops and plants with stagey growth. Agronomists note more volunteer sunflowers than in years past.
Hay and pasture land has quickly absorbed the recent rainfall, and several inches of precipitation have contributed to pastures greening up, and gave cattle ranchers some hope for a fall grazing season, reducing feed stress marginally. Cows are grazing where growth supports, and water supplies have replenished somewhat.
Intensified management has become a priority, fencing off smaller grazing parcels to take advantage of new forage growth for cattle.