Farmers around Miami have been hoping for rain for several weeks and it’s the same story across much of south-central Manitoba.
One local farmer said Wednesday he was knifing more canola seed into fields where much of his earlier seeded canola germinated but then died because it was too dry.
Record temperatures exceeding 34 C June 2, along with strong winds, aren’t helping.
Environment Canada said there was a chance of showers or thundershowers Friday night, but the Weather Channel put that likelihood at only 50 per cent. Both agencies were forecasting sunny weather with temperatures in the high 20s for next week.
Not only is canola, a small-seed, shallowly planted crop, at risk, but so are soybeans, said an official with Manitoba Agriculture. (Manitoba government employees are restricted from speaking publicly due to a pending byelection.)
The good news is subsoil moisture is good in most parts of the province, Bruce Burnett, Glacier FarmMedia’s director of markets and weather, said in an interview May 31.
“Overall we planted the crop in decent shape… but I will say the moisture now is a concern, especially for the people who had to reseed canola because it was hurt by the frost,” he said.
“It is probably critical that we do get some rain here by the middle of June for some of these crops, but having said that in a lot of areas, especially some of the cereal crops that were planted earlier, look pretty good right now — the ones that got good emergence.
“Certainly if you are on sandy soils… yeah, you are going to need some moisture pretty quickly.”
Forage crops and pastures in the central region also need rain.
While there might have been reseeding claims submitted due to dry soils, as of June 1 a crop insurance official said he wasn’t aware of any.
“We haven’t seen big (numbers of) reseed claims to this point,” the official said.
There were a few due to winterkilled winter wheat and fall rye in eastern Manitoba and a few following frost that damaged some canola fields, but in total reseeding claims, so far, are below normal, the official said.
Farmers can make reseeding claims until June 20, which is the seeding deadline for cereals and several other crops in Manitoba.
To qualify for a reseeding benefit farmers contemplating reseeding must first get the field inspected by crop insurance. If the field has some living crop the farmer might be required to destroy it before reseeding. While that might not make sense to farmers, crop insurance says not doing so could result in uneven crop maturity.
Potential fraud is also a concern. Farmers could say they reseeded into a standing crop without having done so to collect a reseeding payment.
Manitoba Agriculture’s May 29 crop weather report showed that since May 1 much of agro-Manitoba was cooler and drier than normal. Last week’s above normal temperatures were expected to put growing degree days back on track.
As of May 28 most of Manitoba Agriculture’s weather stations in central Manitoba reported having received less than 50 per cent of normal precipitation since May 1. (see map above) The driest station, Baldur, was 28 per cent of normal, while the Manitou station was near normal at 97 per cent.
Much of the Interlake and southwest Manitoba were drier than normal too, while the northwest was close to normal or above normal.
There are pockets in the northwest that are very wet, including The Pas, which received 82 mm of rain between May 1 and 29 — 259 per cent above normal, according to Manitoba Agriculture’s May 29 crop weather report.
“They have hardly turned a wheel up there,” an official said.
Things can always be worse. Many farmers in northern Saskatchewan and Alberta had to harvest some of last year’s crop this spring before seeding this year’s crop, Burnett said. And many of those farmers were not finished seeding as of June 1.
As provinces go we are probably in better shape that way,” he said.
“If you were to ask (Manitoba) farmers on March 1 what they needed, they would’ve all universally said ‘a dry spring.’ We are sort of getting what they asked for, but as usual we don’t want it to become extreme.”