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High winds, frost make for difficult harvest conditions

Manitoba Crop Report and Crop Weather report for September 8

Southwest Region

Cold temperatures and rain in some areas stopped harvest last week. Very strong winds on Saturday and severe frost Monday night have been extremely hard on some crops, and posing a serious challenge to farmers’ mental health. Wind caused damage to standing and swathed crops. Multiple reports of shattered canola and blown swaths dominated this week’s events. Producers are determining the losses of the crops. Early fall frost in western Manitoba will have serious impacts on longer season crops. Most soybean and cornfields are likely to be affected, as temperature was -1.5 to -5°C varying lengths of time. This frost will affect the yield and quality of these crops.

The spring cereal harvest in most of the Southwest is 60% complete, with majority of that figure south of the TransCanada Highway. Spring wheat is about half done, while barley is about 90% complete. Oats is about 70% complete. Lodging is visible in remaining oat fields.

Field pea harvest is done and yield is average to above average in most areas with excellent quality.

Canola harvest is about 10 to 15% complete. The canola harvest has not begun yet in many northern parts of the region. Lots of swathing happening as some producers are starting to swath some canola early, due to frost Monday night. Flax fields are maturing evenly, with some weed presence.

Soybean crop is mostly at R6.5 (full seed) to R7 (pod yellowing) stage. Some varieties are maturing earlier than others are. There are significant soybean acres sown to later maturing varieties which could be more severely impacted by recent frost. Damage will be determined in a few days time until harvest. Variety maturity selection will continue to be a significant factor in western Manitoba for future soybean crops due to these unpredictable situations.

Sunflowers are at R7 stage. Most of crop was very good but this frost may influence test weights.

Corn is at R5 stage. Very few fields were beyond this stage prior to frost. This killing frost may harm the yield and test weight in corn in the Southwest.

Most forages have been put up, while straw baling continues. Frost will become an issue for corn silage due to nitrates. Pastures are good; Dugouts are about 70% full.

Northwest Region

Weather this week made harvest operations a challenge in the Northwest region. There were several days of intermittent showers as well as cool overnight temperatures with heavy morning dew and then strong winds. Cold overnight temperatures also brought frost to many parts of the region Monday and Tuesday mornings. The extent of frost damage is still being assessed and will be a concern for later seeded, reseeded or later emerging crops.

Field pea harvest is approximately 95% complete in the region. Yields in the Swan River/Roblin region have been good at 70 to 80 bu/ac, 70 to 90 bu/ac in Roblin area and 60 to 65 bu/ac in Grandview. Fieldwork on harvested fields is underway.

Cereals are generally ripe and ready for harvest when moisture and weather permit. Forty to 50% of the spring wheat harvest is complete around Swan River/Roblin areas. Upwards of 80% of the barley is harvested around Swan River. Swathing of oats is underway with a start to combining around Roblin.

Canola is podded and continuing to maturity with desiccation and swathing occurring as staging and conditions allow. The canola crop is 50 to 60% swathed around Roblin with an initial start to combining; about 30% of the canola is swathed at Swan River and approximately 25% at The Pas. Flax continues to ripen and remains standing. Soybeans are mostly at R6 to R6.5 and ripening. Some of the soybean crop will likely have been affected by the recent frost events, the full extent still unknown.

The impacts of the frost events on forage plant growth will depend on the duration of the frost and how low the temperatures dipped. It is expected to slow pasture growth thus some sites will require supplementation. Second cut hay growth will also be affected and producers await a killing frost to harvest these fields. Corn silage and annual greenfeed yield and quality will be negatively impacted as well. In addition, there will be an increased risk of nitrates in late seeded greenfeed crops. Producers continue to bale straw for feed and bedding. Livestock water supplies are adequate.

Central Region

Light rain on Tuesday affected most of the region bringing from three to 15 mm of precipitation halting harvest operations for a few days. Sunny conditions returned for most of the rest of the week allowing for good harvest progress. Frost Tuesday morning west of the escarpment where temperature dipped below zero for up to 9 hours. Coldest location reported was in Clearwater at -4°C. East of the escarpment temperatures remained above zero. Strong winds mid-week and on Sunday gusting up to 70 to 80 km/hour. Overall soil moisture conditions remain as fair for much of the region to good in areas that received moisture recently.

Wheat harvest is mostly complete in the Red River Valley and north of the TransCanada highway where crops were most advanced. West of the escarpment wheat harvest is progressing with about 60 to 70% harvested. Yields reported vary from 40 bus/a in the southeastern corner of the region where heavy mid-summer rains caused drowning to portions of fields. Sixty to 100 bu/ac on fields west of the escarpment with grain quality in the top two grades mainly. Some ergot reported in wheat. Most barley fields are harvested with reported yields ranging from 70 to 120 bu/ac and good quality. Over half of the oat crop is harvested with reported yields in the 110 to 160 bu/ac range and good bushel weight. Ripe standing oats also suffered shattering losses from the strong winds.

Swathing and harvest of canola is underway. Pod shatter resistant varieties tend to be left standing for direct harvest. Strong winds mid week and Sunday especially caused swathed canola to turn and in some cases roll into piles. Canola yields reported range from 40 to 50 bu/ac or in the average range with good quality grain. The flax crop looks good and standing up well. Sunflowers are progressing into the R7 stage with seed developing.

Most field peas are harvested. Some later planted fields still in the full-maturity stage (R7). Yield reports have been in the 60 to 80 bu/ac range and of good quality.

Soybean fields are in the beginning maturity (R7) stage as fields are to turning. In areas that suffered frost Tuesday morning, soybeans may have upper canopy crinkling of leaves in later maturing fields. Edible beans harvest has been slow as fields are maturing and ready for desiccation. Some Kidney types already combined with yields reported near 1800 lbs/acre.

Harvest is expected to progress well this week with the warmer, sunny and dry forecast. Many fields are mature and ready to be combined. Straw is being baled on many harvested cereal grain fields. Fusarium head blight symptoms are showing up in barley and wheat but the severity is low. Most cornfields are in the dough (R4) to dent (R5) stage. Corn crops are looking well with the fair soil moisture and recent warm temperatures. Winter cereal seeding is starting for the 2021 crop.

Producers need to be cautious cutting alfalfa during the critical fall period which is 3 to 4 weeks prior to a killing frost as winter injury can occur. It is better to wait until a killing frost to cut alfalfa at this time of year.

Frost in western Manitoba has producers concerned over nitrates in their uncut greenfeed. Wild hay, cereal greenfeed and silage harvest is mostly complete. Corn silage harvest has not yet begun.

Cooler conditions and showers has improved forage growth but it will be limited as the growing season is almost over.

Water sources on pasture are adequate but some are getting low. Pasture conditions are variable depending on stocking rates, rainfall and soil type. Pastures grazed down where rainfall was lacking for optimal regrowth are running out of grass. Producers are grazing greenfeed stubble and second growth hayfields to extend the grazing season. Supplemental feeding of fodder as well as creep feeding on pastures starting to occur.

Eastern Region

Since last Tuesday, rainfall accumulations across the Eastern Region ranged from 10 to over 35mm occurring as thunderstorms and general rain or showers during the middle of last week as well as over this past weekend in northern districts. Very strong winds on Sunday, with gusts exceeding 90 km/hr caused canola swaths to be badly blown around in some fields. Yield loss due to pod shatter/pod drop and challenges with harvesting on these fields have resulted. Some pod shatter/pod drop in standing canola intended for straight cutting was also observed. Temperatures approached freezing, but no reports of frost damage. Producers were frustrated with harvest interruptions but are hopeful they will return to the fields later in the week.

Across the Eastern region, overall harvest completion was estimated at 40%. Spring wheat harvest was about 80% complete. Yield reports ranged from 55 to 70 bu/acre. Quality ranged from #1 to #2 with rainfall causing some bleaching. Protein levels were variable from field to field ranging from under 11 to 15%. Oats harvest was about 90% complete with yield reports ranging from 100 to 130 bu/ac with good quality. Variability in bushel weights on a field-by-field basis was noted.

In canola, pre-harvest herbicide applications were ongoing with at least 90% of canola slated for a pre- harvest herbicide sprayed so far. For canola intended for swathing, at least 90% has been swathed so far. The extent of reseeded/late seeded canola that occurred this spring will result in canola pre-harvest herbicide applications, swathing and canola harvest itself dragging on longer this fall. About 25% of canola was harvested with yield reports ranging from 25 to 50 bu/ac with good quality. Some producers have been disappointed with their canola yields, which have been attributed to hot dry conditions during flowering and initial pod set. Most soybeans were in R7 growth stage. Some fields seeded to very early maturing soybean varieties were noted as approaching R8 (95% brown pod/full maturity). Corn was in the dent growth stage with the milk line at about 50% (variety dependant). Most sunflower fields were somewhere in the R7 growth stage with producers starting to make plans for crop desiccation later this month unless a severe enough killing frost occurs.

Across the Eastern region, second cut beef hay was about 85% complete with yields ranging from 50% below average to average with good quality. Third cut alfalfa dairy hay harvest was ongoing. Progress had slowed with some remaining fields being allowed to grow in anticipation of being cut after the first killing frost. Pasture conditions ranged from fair to good with improvements in pasture condition continuing. Producers remained concerned about feed supplies for overwintering, making arrangements with grain producers to purchase straw. Baling of straw was ongoing when possible. Livestock water supply was rated as adequate. As with pastures, the conditions of dugouts continued to improve with dugouts in lower rainfall areas being partially or fully refilled because of recent rainfall.

Interlake Region

Harvest progress has slowed with scattered showers and heavy dews. Producers were starting back in the fields on Friday and through the weekend when conditions allowed. Tough grain is being taken off, as combines get rolling late in the day, with cooler temperatures and heavy dews. Precipitation continues to be variable, ranging from 10 to 25 mm. High winds on the weekend blew around canola swaths, making harvest difficult and impacting yields. Yields also affected in standing canola due to pod drop. Reports of significant shatter in standing oats.

Temperatures have declined, with daytime highs in the high teens to low 20s. Overnight lows dipped close to freezing, concern remains due to the upcoming forecast. Average daytime temperatures range from 10.8°C to12.3°C.

September continues to bring rain that may help with fill in later maturing crops, as long as frost stays away. Rains will help replenish hay land and pasture, especially in the northern part of the region. Although improved, much of the region continues to register less than 80% of normal rainfall amounts. Crop yields are variable; higher yields are the result of an earlier extra rain or two. Yields have a broad range, but have often been better than rainfall amounts would indicate. Lighter textured soils were most affected.

Cereal harvest for many in the region is complete; overall progress is estimated at 70 to 80% done. Barley yields to date range from 60 to 110 bu/ac. Spring wheat yields are reported in the 45 to 95 bu/ac range, with average yield currently estimated at 55 to 65 bu/ac. Quality is good. Some bleaching following rains. Proteins range from 12.5 to 14.5%, dependent on yield. Oat yields reported at 90 to 130 bu/ac, with some as high as 150 to 160 bu/ac. As in every year, some oats are light, but most are reported as adequate in weight.

Straw is being baled immediately following cereal harvest; yield is better than recent years. Operations have stalled due to recent rains. Pea residue has been baled, an additional feed source for cattle.

Most of the intended canola swathing is complete and standing crop is waiting to be combined. Early yield reports range from 25 to 50 bu/ac; with average yields expected to be in the 35 to 45 bu range. Harvest completion is estimated at 35 to 45%, with a number of individual growers finished canola harvest and waiting on beans.

Most soybeans are at R6.5 to R7. Drought stress symptoms are more evident, especially on lighter textured soils, and premature ripening is noticeable. In the driest areas, short season varieties are shutting down; rain has helped later maturing varieties. Rapid leaf colour change is evident in soybeans, and leaf drop continues. Fields in the R6 stage are causing some concern due to potential for frost injury.

Most sunflowers are finished blooming, ranging from R7 to R8.

Lower yields are expected for grain and silage corn. Fill will likely be impacted by lack of precipitation, although some report good cob size. Most are in R4 to R5. In the north part of the region, higher silage yields are expected in the eastern areas.

Grasshoppers continue to be a nuisance, but pressure has dropped off.

Increased acres of greenfeed oats and barley, millet and cereal mixes were seeded. Cutting and baling continues. Yields are good, and will help to supplement alfalfa and grass hay supplies. Timely rains in some areas of the northeastern and southwestern parts of the region have resulted in very good hay yields. Many fields do not have enough growth to warrant cutting, particularly older stands. Winterkill last year has made producers more hesitant to cut at this time of year.

Rains continue to improve pastures, allowing some to hang on, but others are done for the season. Cumulative effects of successive dry years are taking a toll. Native hay yields have been poor; sloughs are dry for the most part. First cut hay is done. Better than last year, new stands are reporting some near average yields, while old stands are very poor. Well-fertilized fields have fared better. Second cut beef and third cut dairy hay will be limited. Forage shortages are expected, but supplies will be somewhat better than expected earlier in the season. Annual crop silage has taken then pressure off for many producers.

Dugout levels are improving because of the recent rains.

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