Cool and wet conditions were the norm last week. Moderate snowfall happened across much of the region, stalling all field activities for two days. Total precipitation was 2 to 10 mm in different areas. Snow melted quickly and producers were able to start some seeding again. Very cold overnight temperatures coupled with below normal daytime highs are limiting field activity. Cold soils are preventing germination in seeded crops. There are no dry conditions reported in any area of southwest. Most of the region has adequate soil moisture and some areas reporting surplus moisture as water is still standing in the fields.
Seeding progress is slower than normal. Overall seeding is about 0 to 5% done in the Southwest. Virden, Miniota and Reston areas have seen some seeding occur, as conditions are better. Other areas are picking dry fields and getting them done. Peas, cereals and limited grain corn are the crops in the ground to date. Cold weather conditions are stalling canola and soybean planting.
Several areas are still completing 2019 harvest and dealing with residue and ruts from last fall. Limited field access is widespread due to soft subsurface soils. Harrowing is very common, since straw was wet and heavy last fall.
Pockets near Melita are 20 to 25% done seeding spring wheat, while northern areas are lower, averaging 12% spring wheat completed.
Barley and oats are 5 to 10% done. Field peas are approximately 25 to 30% seeded with no emergence reported. There are no reports of canola and soybean seeding.
Grain corn seeding is 5 to 10% complete in southern areas. Winter wheat and fall rye development is behind normal, and concern remains about frosts after dormancy has broken. Many fields still are waiting for fertilizer top-dressing.
Hay and forage land continues to be a concern as cool conditions limiting growth and grazing in the region. Producers are planning to apply fertilizer and start new stands. Area dugouts, sloughs and streams are normal to above normal this year.
In spite of cool temperatures and strong, cold winds, seeding is progressing in the. Daytime temperatures hovered in the mid- teens with overnight temperatures dropping down around -5°C through the week. The soil is slowly warming up and soil moisture is generally adequate throughout the region. Soils are dryer on the southeast side of the region and wetter in northern areas. A spring snowstorm dumped rapidly melting snow in the Roblin area over the weekend, but it did not significantly hinder seeding operations.
There was progress on field operations and spring seeding over the week including some harrowing, fertilizer applications, pre-seed herbicide applications, seeding of wheat, peas and some canola. The exception is The Pas where a few more days of good weather is needed before spring operations will begin. Clean up from the 2019 season continues, where unharvested crop remains.
Approximately 10 to 15% of the spring wheat crop is seeded in the Swan River area. Around Roblin, seeding conditions are good with more of the crop in the ground. About 30% of the spring cereals and 80% of field peas are seeded in that part of the region. Canola seeding is underway and estimated at 5 to 10% complete. Fababean around Swan River are 25 to 30% seeded. Seeding around Dauphin is also underway and estimated at 5% complete. Winter cereals are greening up well and seem to have made it through the winter in good condition.
Volunteer plants, including cereals and canola, are becoming evident in many fields. Weed growth including stinkweed, dandelions, hemp nettle, thistle, quackgrass and wild oats is general throughout the area. Insect activity is quiet.
Cold overnight temperatures still inhibiting growth on forages and pastures. It will be some time before there is sufficient growth to sustain grazing. Dugouts are adequate to full.
Cold temperatures prevailed during the week with overnight temperatures as low as -8°C. On Saturday morning, the Southwestern part of the region was blanketed by 5 to 10cm of snow, halting all field operations and adding another more moisture to the already wet field conditions. Harvest and removal of overwintered crop material progressed slowly during the few days of cool and windy conditions last week. Most of the overwintered crops are located west of the escarpment where some wheat, canola and soybean fields remain unharvested. Crop producers are doing all they can to remove and dispose of the crop material ahead of seeding operations through harvesting, baling for livestock, choices are made based on the crop condition and remaining value.
Accumulated precipitation last week varies from 0 to 10mm where most of the moisture received was in the form of snow in the southwest portion of the region but spared the southeast to north-central areas. Soil temperatures are cold and slow to warm up.
Cultivation, fertilization, harrowing are being done wherever possible to help dry and warm soils. Lighter textured soils combined with some topography for surface drainage are the first candidates for field operations and seeding. Seeding is progressing on selected fields as conditions allow, but remains slow as low lying areas of fields are sometimes still too wet to carry machinery, and many machines are getting stuck.
Fertilizer applications progressed with broadcast application and incorporation in selected fields. Manure injection from intensive livestock operations have progressed where field conditions allowed, but remain challenging with high levels of soil moisture. Burning of corn residue was common on days with lower humidity on heavy clay soils to improve field access.
Winter wheat, fall rye and perennial ryegrass fields are growing slowly. Winter survival is very good with recovery and growth evident, minimum reseeding expected.
Seeding of wheat, barley, oats and some corn reported in the Red River Valley, which missed the weekend snow. Spring wheat seeding is progressing at a slower pace in the western side of the region due to the recent snow. Earliest planted cereals on lighter well drained fields are emerging with one leaf visible. Field pea seeding is underway and good progress reported in different parts of the region, with as much as 30% seeded in the Gladstone area. Overall seeding ranges from 5 to 15% complete, with a higher proportion in the Red River Valley versus the Western side of the region. Potato planting continues with about 40% of the acres planted in the Carberry to Portage and Winkler areas on lighter and better- drained soils. Cold soil temperature is slowing emergence.
Weed growth is having a slow start given the prevailing cool temperatures. To date, cold temperatures have prevented pre- seed herbicidal treatments.
Overall, there has been adequate dugout recharge with water supplies starting out better this spring than the last two years, partially the result of recharge last fall.
Below normal temperatures have slowed forage hay and pasture development with little growth so far. Pastures that were over grazed last year will be slower to grow this spring. Cattle are being put out to pasture to get them out of confined yards but still receiving supplemental feed.
Weather last week was characterized by a lack of precipitation and well below normal daytime/nighttime temperatures. In some locations, new records for low temperatures set. Soil temperatures at seeding depth ranged from highs of 8 to 12°C, but quickly dropped overnight to zero or even below freezing. Soil moisture on cropland was rated as adequate with the number of fields in a surplus condition in central and northern districts dropping off significantly. While producers still had to assess soil moisture conditions field-by- field, fieldwork was widespread last week. Soil moisture conditions on hay and pasturelands were rated as adequate.
Across the region, less than 2% of winter wheat or fall rye acres appear to have winterkilled. Stand conditions are good to excellent with most damage resulting from field rutting during spring fertilizer applications. Stand assessment has been challenging as fields did not show as much evidence of “greening up” which caused concern and likely resulted in some acceptable stands being terminated. Fertilizer application on fall cereals was completed.
Across the region, significant progress on seeding was made with about 15% of overall seeding completed. About 50% of spring wheat acres are planted along with about 25% of oat acres. Producers are expected to complete cereal seeding this week if weather is favourable. Approximately 15% of canola, corn and sunflower acres were planted and rapid progress on these crops is expected this week. Corn growers have been concerned about planting into cool soils, but were also worried about calendar date given the season requirements of the crop. Agronomists report that discussions with clients about appropriate soil temperatures for seeding have been much more common this year.
Field peas at 50% seeded, with rapid progress expected on the remainder this week. Besides seeding, spring tillage, fertilizer applications and manure applications continued. Harvesting of overwintered canola, spring cereals and soybeans was almost complete with only a few fields remaining. Some stubble burning continued as producers dealt with heavy residue cover on some fields.
Overall, producers are under a great deal of pressure as the amount of spring work required greatly
increased in 2020, because of unfavourable conditions in fall 2019. Cool weather and soil temperatures have held back seeding progress on some crop types. This week should see rapid seeding progress if the weather holds. Many producers are concerned about the precipitation forecasted for this week slowing them down as soil moisture conditions are already adequate for seeding.
Cool weather was noted as delaying the growth of pastures and hayfields. Fertilizing of hay and pasture was ongoing last week and continues. The conditions of hay and pasture lands rated as 75% good and 25% fair. Availability of livestock water was reported as adequate for the region.
Cooler temperatures continued, with overnight lows falling below freezing. Average temperatures for the previous week ranged from 2 to 5°C; overnight lows down to -9°C. Soil temperatures are 2 to 4°C. No rain in the last week.
Operations have rapidly ramped up, with rain in the forecast. Cultivation to deal with ruts from last fall’s wet harvest conditions has been a priority. Wind and sun has allowed for surface drying, but cool temperatures are limiting drying underneath, especially on the heavier land. Some water remains in ditches and narrow field drains and sloughs. Field conditions seem to be widely variable, with most seeding being done on lighter textured soils. Rain will be welcome, as frost is still coming out of the ground.
Most of 2019 unharvested crop has come off; the odd combine is still working. There is a big push to get fertilizer on forages before the forecast rain. Anhydrous ammonia users are reporting some issues with band sealing, where a soil crust on the surface supports machinery but leaves the muck layer exposed underneath with potential nitrogen losses. Seeding continues, although minimal to date. Peas are going in where possible, with as much as 30% complete. Seeding of spring cereals continues. Many in the south half of the region report as much as 50% and more of their wheat seeded, with as much as 10 to 15% of the region’s acres complete. Some canola has been seeded. Most movement is occurring in the southern part of the region. Estimated total seeded acres is less than 5%.
Winter survival of perennial crops looks good; both heat and rain needed to get growth going.
Low temperatures and windy conditions have limited herbicide applications. Weed germination and growth has slowed with cool temperatures.
Pasture regrowth is very slow with cold weather and dry conditions. Majority of pastures rated in fair to very poor condition. The majority of hayland is rated in fair condition. Forage availability is a concern for those impacted most severely by dry conditions in the last two to three years. Livestock water supplies are currently adequate.