No significant rains fell this week in the Southwest region, and dry conditions persist. Possible showers this weekend in forecast. Cool and calmer conditions have preserved some soil moisture for now. The majority of the region has good seedbed moisture but facing rapid depletion. Many producers are adjusting seeding depths according to the conditions. Nighttime frosts are still an issue so producers are cautious about the seeding of canola and soybeans.
Winter cereals are emerging well but there are some reports of reseeding fields due to winterkill and shortage of moisture in fall-seeded crops. Seeding in full swing on the majority of farms. Field pea seeding is 75 to 85 per cent done, and some early seeded peas have started to emerge, while most are at the imbibition stage. Wheat and barley are the furthest along, at nearly 70 per cent of expected crops are in the ground at this time. Oats seeding is about 30 to 40 per cent done, while corn planting is 25 to 30 per cent complete.
Producers started to seed canola, but progress is not widespread yet, with less than 10 per cent complete at this time. Some soybeans were also seeded last week, with 10 to 15 per cent of the crop planted to date. Some farms are waiting for later calendar dates, better soil moisture, and favorable forecasts to continue with canola and soybeans. Flax is also close to 5 per cent done. Overall seeding progress is 25 to 30 per cent done in the Southwest region.
Some weed growth including foxtail barley in low spots and downy brome in some patches. Kochia is starting to emerge as well. Overall, little weed growth due to dry and cold conditions. Some farmers are choosing to push slough brush and trees to expand acreage while it is dry.
Pastures starting to green slightly, and coming out of dormancy. A few pastures have seen cattle turned out. Supplemental feeding is still underway. Pasture growth is very slow due to dry and cool conditions. Dugouts are rated at 50 to 60 per cent full, creeks remain stagnant, and 10 per cent of sloughs have some water left. Reports of well water tables down 10 feet from normal. Some producers are also digging dugouts deeper to find water for their livestock. Most municipalities have put fire bans in place due to dry weather conditions.
Seeding operations progressed rapidly in the Northwest region last week. Cool temperatures continued with highs not exceeding 13 C while overnight lows dipped to -10 C in some areas. In spite of the cooler weather, soil temperatures are warming allowing producers to begin seeding operations in earnest. There was no rainfall last week in the region and winds were light which has helped retain topsoil moisture. Soil moisture is currently adequate, although drier than average for this time of year which is a concern for growth of annual crops, pastures and hayfields. With the dry conditions, there are burn bans in some municipalities in the region.
With the exception of The Pas, spring operations are well underway and producers are making rapid progress. Seeding is pegged at 30 per cent complete in the region to date with continued progress expected this week.
Approximately 75 per cent of the peas are in the ground and rolled in the Roblin, Swan River and Dauphin areas. Peas are expected to be all in the ground in the next few days.
Wheat acres are going in quickly and are estimated at 65 per cent complete in the region. The warmer temperatures and good seeding conditions in the forecast should result in completion this week. Barley seeding is underway and 30 per cent complete. Crops are being seeded into adequate moisture for germination but more will be needed for continued growth.
There are expectations that more canola will be seeded in the Northwest region this year. To date, limited acres of 5 per cent of the total expected crop are in the ground as producers wait for warmer soils and better overnight temperatures. Conditions are expected to improve in the next week, so canola seeding will ramp up in the next few days.
Pre-seed applications of herbicides continued as well as pre-seed burn- off as weeds have begun actively growing. There has been good winter survival of winter cereals, clovers and alfalfa.
Pheromone baited traps for diamondback moth monitoring have been put out this past week although no numbers have yet been reported. There are no reports of insect damage.
Hay and pasture growth still minimal as nighttime temperatures remain below freezing this past week. Some parts of the region are reporting sufficient water in dugouts while others are reporting lower levels than normal. Water sources would benefit from more rain as would pastures and hayfields with both moisture and heat. Cattle still being fed in winter feed yards or on stockpiled forage.
Steady moderate northerly winds kept the daytime temperatures below normal all last week with freezing overnight Precipitation is needed to replenish surface soil moisture for uniform seed germination, dissolve and incorporate fertilizer and soil active herbicides.
Topsoil conditions were somewhat damp and sticky the first couple of days of the week from the last weekend rainfall delaying return to field operations until later Tuesday. From then on, field access was good and field operations resumed. Seeding progressed well this week, once topsoil dried. Soil temperatures at seeding depth currently ranging from 7 to 10 C, warming from last week, but remaining somewhat cool resulting in slow crop emergence. Forecast this week is for sunny conditions and warming temperatures allowing continued seeding operations.
Winter wheat, fall rye and perennial ryegrass fields have de-hardened and growing slowly. Winter survival of those crops is good to fair, with delayed recovery due to the cool and dry conditions. Some reseeding is happening where winter damage was severe from the poor fall establishment and winterkill.
Field preparation has been limited to date in an attempt to preserve topsoil moisture ahead of seeding. Wheat, oats and barley seeding progressed rapidly with many growers reporting being done their wheat and oats acreage already. Some early seeded cereals are emerging where there was more moisture. Field peas progressed well and considered almost done. Earliest canola fields are starting to emerge while most of the canola acreage remains to be seeded with about 15 to 20 per cent in the ground. Flax seeding has started in the region. Corn planting is also progressing with an estimated 60 to 70 per cent completed. Soybeans seeding started slow but are picking up this week as temperatures rise. About 10 to 15 per cent of soybean crops are planted to date. Dry bean seeding is expected to start next week. Potato planting progressed well this week with some growers already finished their planting. About 65 to 70 per cent of planting is considered done. Overall seeding in the region is considered to be in the 45 to 55 per cent completion range. No one seems to be rushing to get seeding done and actually holding off a bit on planting due to the cold and dry conditions to date.
Pheromone baited traps for diamondback moth and true armyworm, potential pests of canola and cereals respectively, are set up to monitor their arrival from southern latitudes.
Weed growth is slow given the prevailing cool temperatures. Winter annuals and perennial weeds are also growing slowly. Minimum amount of pre-seed burnoff given the poor weed growth and regular freezing temperatures overnight. Spring annual weeds are now starting to emerge.
Little to no runoff this spring has not recharged dugouts and sloughs, and water supply will be lower than normal to start the grazing season. Continued frosts and cool, dry conditions have delayed forage growth. Low fertility hay fields or overgrazed pastures will be slower to grow this spring. Cattle being moved out of winter-feeding areas onto sacrifice pastures will require several weeks of feeding before grazing can begin. Pastures are ready for grazing when the grasses are in the 4-leaf stage and 5 to 6 inches tall.
No precipitation accumulation was recorded over the last week in the region. Overall, this week has again been cooler than producers would like with daytime and nighttime temperatures below normal with frost every night. Daily soil temperatures at seeding depth ranged from 10 to 14 C once warmed and cooled to 3 to 5 C overnight. Average soil temperatures at seeding depth are still just below the 10 C mark. Soil moisture conditions on cropland across the region were rated as adequate.
Soil moisture at planting depth continues to be adequate but any rain would be welcome. Field access has been good however, producers are still being careful about drying out the seedbed especially in cases where shallow seeded crops are going into lighter soils. Topsoil moisture has become much more of a concern this last week with producers feeling rain will be needed for even crop germination and emergence. Once the crop is started, subsoil moisture will be able to carry it for a while but surface moisture is rising as a concern. Producers are looking for warmer weather so they can complete seeding and would all like to see an inch of rain as they have soil moisture concerns over the longer term.
Across the region, less than 5 per cent of winter wheat or fall rye acres appear to have winterkilled. Overall, stand condition is assessed as good with stands tillering and growing well.
Excellent seeding progress was reported across the Eastern region. Rapid seeding progress on cereals, peas, sunflowers and corn with attention shifting to canola and soybeans as the week progressed.
Spring wheat seeding is estimated at 90 per cent complete for the region with a many producers reporting that all their spring wheat is now planted. Earliest planted fields are beginning to emerge across the region. Oat planting is nearing completion with an estimated 90 per cent of acres in the ground. The remaining spring cereal acres should finished up soon. Corn acres were the main crop being sown this past week, corn planting is estimated at 75 per cent complete. Field pea planting is estimated 100 per cent complete.
Sunflowers are estimated at 50 per cent complete with the remaining acres likely going in this week. Canola is estimated at 15 per cent complete while Soybean is estimated at 30 per cent complete. Canola and soybeans planting will become more general this week. Soybeans are being seeded in preference to canola. Producers have been very concerned about frost on canola given last year’s experiences and want canola to be in good growing conditions to avoid over–the-top insecticide applications for flea beetles.
Soil moisture conditions reports in southern parts of the region on hay and pasturelands are rated as 50 per cent adequate and 50 per cent short, Northern areas report 100 per cent adequate. Very dry and cool week with below normal temperatures. Fertilizing continuing on pasture and hay fields. Dugouts that did not receive runoff are at less than 50 per cent capacity in some areas. Dugouts that received runoff are at 80 per cent capacity.
Feeding on pasture continues in an effort to get cows out of corrals. Forage inventories running low in some areas. In northern districts, hay and pasture stand condition have deteriorated from last week. Producers are disappointed with slow growth of stands due to cool temperatures and would like to see it warm up. Lack of growth is becoming a big problem given that cows will be turned out in a few weeks. There is not enough time to make up for lack of growth so far. Hay not for sale now as farmers brace themselves for poor pasture productivity. Poor growing conditions are a bigger problem than soil moisture status at this time.
Dry conditions continue, with no measurable precipitation. Highs ranged from 12 to 14 C, and overnight lows down to -10.7 C. Scattered showers earlier have allowed some to seed into moisture at 1.25 to 1.5 inches. Others report no moisture at all down to 5 cm and deeper, particularly on lighter textured soils. Topsoil moisture is still adequate on most acres, but declining across the region and significant precipitation will be necessary for recharge.
Seeding is expected to ramp up with increasing temperatures and a warmer trending forecast. Significant fertilizer applications and tillage operations last fall have allowed for the slower pace, coupled with an early start date. Soils are very slowly warming. Field conditions are much improved as compared to spring 2020. Progress is more advanced in the south Interlake. Overall, seeding completed for the region ranges up to 50 per cent or higher.
Fertilizer applications continue, on annual cropland and perennial crops, forages and pasture. Winter survival has been good; reports of winterkill across the region have been less than 5 per cent. Hay and grass seed fields are very slowly greening up, but with little new growth.
For much of the area, cereals are wrapping up this week, and many producers are finished. Most estimate 80 per cent of the cereals are in. Wheat is emerging. Peas are essentially all in, and some have emerged nicely.
Some canola has gone in, others are waiting until soils warm, to encourage rapid emergence. Flea beetle pressure is expected to be high, and producers are factoring in that concern on their decisions. Many are concerned about seeding into soft, dry soil, and are deliberating how long to wait, or whether to seed into dry soil. Some are choosing to seed soybeans first, as they are able to go in deeper, while others are splitting up the canola and soybeans. The traditional order of seeding – cereals, canola, then soybeans is disregarded this year. Some corn has been in for a while, while some producers are waiting for soils to warm. Most of the corn acres will be finished by the end of the week. Sunflowers are complete in the southern part of the region. Other small seeded crops such as flax and forage seed crops are being seeded. Smaller seeded crops are going into dry soil, in places.
Concern regarding lack of moisture lower in the soil profile continues. Field operations are drying out the topsoil. More producers have moved to low disturbance seeding equipment. Many intend to go straight in, forgoing pre-seed tillage in order to preserve moisture. Others have moved to minimal tillage with harrows, rather than pre- seed cultivation.
There seems to be few if any changes to seeding intentions, with different areas reporting slightly more sunflowers and flax, or a modest increase in canola or soybeans. Some areas will see slightly lower soybean acres, due to concern about dry conditions in lighter textured soil, going to canola instead. Acres are generally holding, and producers are optimistic with good market prices and if they have enough topsoil moisture to get the crop growing. Continued dry conditions will cause this to change.
Pre-seed soil applied herbicides applications continue when conditions are appropriate. Some changes have been made due to dry conditions. More pre-seed and pre-emergence burnoff applications are being made as weed growth has slowly increased. More winter annuals and dandelions are evident, and wild oats are starting to poke through.
Pheromone baited traps have been set up for monitoring diamondback moth and true armyworm. Nothing found in traps again this week. Cold and dry conditions continue to limit pasture and hay regrowth. Combined with late summer and fall grazing, plants have low carbohydrate root reserves for from which to regrow. At present, winter feed supplies are adequate, but shortages may arise shortly if significant delays to cattle going on to pasture arise. Some producers are buying feed. Winter forage supplies were improved this past winter as compared to the previous year. Producers switched from annual cash crops to feed crops to make up anticipated shortfalls. Silage and greenfeed acres are expected to increase again this year. Some herds were culled, to match feed supplies to number of animals.
Livestock water supplies are currently adequate for most. Dugout levels are low for this time of year, with some reports of only 25 per cent full, or even completely dry. Some wells are being dug as a result.