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Canola dodges the worst of the damage

Manitoba’s canola stands took a beating with hail in southern Manitoba June 14, but experts are optimistic about the chance of recovery.

The canola fields may look grim, but both Manitoba Agriculture and local agronomists from the Canola Council of Canada (CCC) say most fields will recover from a June 14 storm that dropped hail over southern Manitoba.

“It almost hit it at an ideal time, because it’s just a visual impact right now,” Justine Cornelsen, CCC western Manitoba agronomy specialist, said. “Certainly, there’s going to be a few plants that, obviously, aren’t going to make it, but a lot of it is just visual, just damage to the leaves. A lot of the canola is just getting ready to elongate and to bolt.”

The agronomist has not seen widespread stem damage, although some producers have taken more serious hits.

Conversely, she added, many fields needed the moisture. Provincial ag weather stations report the storm dropped over 40 millimetres of rain in spots.

In a June 20 Crop Talk webinar, farm production adviser Lionel Kaskiw said that most stands still hit four to seven plants a square foot.

“The comment on canola is to leave it and just give it a chance,” he said. “I think in most cases it’s going to come.”

Most fields have also moved past the stage where they are vulnerable to flea beetles, Cornelsen said, noting that the focus now turns to sclerotinia.

Most corn was between the four- to eight-leaf stage at the time of the storm, Kaskiw said. While the province notes that the growing point is above the ground at six leaves, a young corn plant can take damage without significant yield impact, as long as the growing point is spared.

“We did see some damage, but I think in most cases we were seeing new growth coming from the centre of the plant again, so the growing point wasn’t damaged,” Kaskiw said. “We’re going to have some impact on yield.”

Kaskiw’s concerns largely centre on disease and irregular development leading to weak stalks vulnerable to wind later on.

“With most of the crops, disease is probably going to be an issue now,” he said. “Wounds are made in the plants and they’ll be an entry point for disease.”

Oats and barley fared well compared to other crops, Kaskiw reported. He said damaged wheat may, likewise, recover, although the heaviest-hit fields will lose stand density and some have been hit badly enough that there may not be enough plants left to deliver a crop.

The province notes that wheat is less vulnerable to hail before elongation, since the growing point is below the soil.

“Depending on the stage you were in, some of the wheat was probably just going into flag-leaf stage… those are the ones that got hit pretty hard,” Kaskiw said.

MASC reported 250 spot hail claims and 120 reseed claims due to hail in 2018 as of June 18.

About the author


Alexis Stockford

Alexis Stockford is a journalist and photographer with the Manitoba Co-operator. She previously reported with the Morden Times and was news editor of  campus newspaper, The Omega, at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops, BC. She grew up on a mixed farm near Miami, Man.



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