Harvest and seeding this year have something in common: too much rain.
South-central Manitoba had heavy rains Aug. 30. While Morris received almost 100 mm, there were unofficial reports of close to five inches at Lowe Farm and south of Miami.
Many areas received at least 25 mm, with others such as Dugald reporting almost 60.
That was followed by another 25 mm in many of the same places Sept. 1, with showers in between leaving fields saturated and ditches running.
Fortunately most of the cereals and canola have been harvested in the Red River Valley, with farmers waiting to combine later-maturing crops such as edible beans, soybeans and corn.
Last week Canadian Wheat Board (CWB) weather and crop analyst Stuart McMillan said harvest was ahead of normal in Manitoba with 35 per cent of the crop off, versus the normal 25 per cent.
However, harvest in Saskatchewan and Alberta were way behind at just eight and six per cent versus normal, which is 17 per cent by Sept. 1.
There was also light frost in parts of central and northern Alberta last week. Weather models were calling for potential frost in parts of Alberta and Saskatchewan this week, McMillan said.
“If we manage to make it through the upcoming week here, the weather models don’t have freezing temperatures through until at least the 10th of September,” McMillan said on the CWB’s website last week.
“We’re crossing our fingers we can get through this week here, but we may well see further frost damage.”
The quality of unharvested cereal crops will suffer because of all the rain, with sprouting and mildew possibilities.
A hard frost would also reduce crop quality.
Many of Manitoba’s corn and soybean crops are close to maturity. With another frost-free week a lot of corn could tolerate a light frost where leaves are damaged but the crop isn’t killed, said Theresa Bergsma, secretary-manager of the Manitoba Corn Growers Association.
Although all farmers are hoping for a repeat of last year’s warmer-than- normal September, farmers in much of Saskatchewan and Alberta will need it for their crops to mature. But Environment Canada senior climatologist David Phillips told Canadian Press it’s unlikely.
“We’ve never seen that before in 125 years of record keeping, so don’t expect that to happen,” Phillips said. “Lightning doesn’t strike often twice in the same spot.” [email protected]