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Cover Crop Program Considered

Compensat ion for crops damaged or destroyed by recent heavy rains across Manitoba will come from crop insurance and AgriStability, but Agriculture Minister Stan Struthers hasn’t ruled out a conservation cover program.

Struthers is also committed to improving drainage.

“Our government has been increasing the amounts that have been going into maintenance of drains…,” Struthers said in an interview June 3. “We are going to continue to do that… and try to assign more money each year so that we can be helpful to farmers.”

Keystone Agricultural Producers (KAP) supports that, said president Ian Wishart. KAP wants the Pest Management Regulatory Agency to give emergency registration to a cattail-killing herbicide called Rodeo – a glyphosate derivative already approved in the United States.

“Frankly, to find an economical way to work on these drains would be to everyone’s benefit,” he said.

Conservation districts, in concert with farmers and rural municipalities, can play a role in enhancing drainage, Struthers said.

“We saw some good examples of drainage that works in the Cooks Creek Conservation District,” he said. “It shoots the water off the fields and into the floodway.”

Struthers inspected waterlogged fields near Starbuck and washed-out culverts near Rathwell last week.

“I think people need to think about how depressing that is and how stressful that is on farm families and little communities that depend on farmers,” he said.

Wishart suggested the cover crop idea to Struthers June 1 while they surveyed

LAURA RANCE

A LITTLE MUD ON THE TIRES: Robert Dewey of Sperling had to remove the fenders so spraying equipment could handle the mud, but herbicide application was underway June 5.

some of the damage caused by up to 146 mm of rain that fell May 27 to 30 over much of agro-Manitoba.

“Ian and KAP bring to the table a number of ideas and alternatives that we could be pursuing,” Struthers said. “I’m open to doing that.”

Cover crops are needed to protect fields from erosion and weeds in fields that can’t be seeded or reseeded, Wishart said.

There was a similar program in 2004 and 2005 that paid farmers $30 an acre to plant cover crops, cost shared equally by the federal and provincial governments.

The seeding deadline for canola in crop insurance Area 1 is June 15, with the extended deadline providing 80 per cent of normal coverage June 20. The deadline and extended deadline in Area 2 is June 10 and 15, respectively. However, farmers can still get crop insurance on wheat and other cereals seeded by June 20.

The Manitoba government isn’t expected to follow Saskatchewan and extend seeding deadlines. As of last week nobody had asked for that, Struthers said.

Wishart said extended seeding deadlines often don’t help farmers.

There are major differences between what’s happening in Saskatchewan and Manitoba, a Manitoba crop insurance official said. Ninety to 95 per cent of Manitoba’s crop has been seeded and is insured; in Saskatchewan 55 to 59 per cent of the crop is in the ground, leaving 40 per cent of acreage uninsured.

“If it’s too wet to drive across the field it’s generally too wet to seed with any method.”

– PAM DE ROCQUIGNY

If Manitoba farmers can’t plant the remaining 500,000 to 750,000 acres because it’s too wet, they are eligible for up to $50 an acre through Excess Moisture Insurance. (There’s a standard deductible of five per cent of total insured acreage for the program. The deductible increases five per cent following every year with a claim and drops five per cent following years without a claim. Farmers can “buy down” their deductible by paying a premium before March 31.)

It was still too soon to tally the crop damage caused by what’s believed to have been a one in 50-year storm last weekend, said David Van Deynze, manager of claim services with the insurance division of the Manitoba Agricultural Services Corporation .

“The jury is still out on the impact,” said Pam de Rocquigny provincial cereals specialist with Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Initiatives.

Spreading canola seed by air or using floaters, isn’t recommended, she said.

“If it’s too wet to drive across the field it’s generally too wet to seed with any method.

“It’s a decision that will have to be made by each individual farmer on a field-by-field basis.”

Crop insurance will cover crops planted using unorthodox methods, but only if they are established, Van Deynze said.

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About the author

Reporter

Allan Dawson

Allan Dawson is a reporter with the Manitoba Co-operator based near Miami, Man. Covering agriculture since 1980, Dawson has spent most of his career with the Co-operator except for several years with Farmers’ Independent Weekly and before that a Morden-Winkler area radio station.

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