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Manitoba Crops Vary But Not Too Bad Overall

“A lot of seeding just did not get done.”

– THELMA BLAHEY, MAFRI

Although crop conditions vary greatly throughout the province, Manitoba so far is avoiding the crippling drought raging out west.

The one word to describe conditions here would be: variable. Too much rain in some places, not enough in others.

Recent storms which swept across parts of the province dumped up to 130 millimetres (mm) of precipitation in some regions and as little as 12 mm elsewhere. The wettest region is the eastern Inter lake, which received between 75 and 100 mm.

“It stopped any seeding that was still going on and any haying that was about to start,” said Thelma Blahey, a Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Initiatives rural leadership specialist in Arborg.

“A lot of seeding just did not get done.”

The Interlake and Westlake regions are still struggling to recover from excessive moisture last summer which ruined hayfields and left some crops unharvested. It’s estimated the area has received six times as much rain as it needs.

Meanwhile, some places in southwestern Manitoba could use rain.

“We’re not terribly dry but we’re getting that way if we don’t get moisture,” said Carling Henderson, a MAFRI extension co-ordinator in Killarney.

Up in the northwest region, farmers are exper iencing both extremes, with excess moisture east of Dauphin and dry conditions around Roblin and Gilbert Plains.

“We’ve got it all over the map here,” said Jim Heshka, a MAFRI farm production adviser in Dauphin.

Overall, crops are developing satisfactorily, despite reports of standing water and yellowing plants in the central and eastern regions, said Pam de Rocquigny, MAFRI’s business development specialist for feed grains in Carman.

But crop development varies widely across the entire province, due to a late, cool spring. Some crops last week were in the second-and third-leaf stage while others had only begun tillering, de Rocquigny said.

“We have the whole gamut.”

Forage crops are especially under pressure because of extreme conditions. Glen Friesen, a MAFRI forage specialist in Carman, said cattle are carving up muddy pastures in the Interlake and Westlake regions. On the other side of the province, forages and pastures in the southwest have not recovered from last summer’s dry weather and are doing poorly.

Winterkill is also a big problem in forages, thanks to a wet fall, a late frost and rain in February which covered plants with ice.

“There’s some pretty serious winterkill problems out there,” Friesen said.

Recent precipitation could compound weed problems. Ingrid Kristjanson, a MAFRI farm production adviser in Morris, said the Red River Valley saw little pre-seeding weed burnoff this spring because of wet conditions, giving larger weed species a jump on crops. The latest rains could produce a new flush of weeds.

But crops that are well-enough advanced can compete successfully with renewed weed growth. Canola and soybean farmers in the valley have had their spraying programs delayed but will catch late weeds with a second application, Kristjanson said.

MAFRI’s latest insect update warns about high levels of alfalfa weevils and grasshoppers. The alfalfa weevil is prevalent throughout the province, while grasshopper hot spots occur mainly in the southwest and central regions.

Producers should be on the lookout for grasshoppers, which are more easily controlled when they are young and concentrated where they emerged, said John Gavloski, a MAFRI entomologist. [email protected]

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