Wet weather delays seeding in western Manitoba

Field work was limited into the second week of May in northwestern Manitoba, while the southwest fought rain

Parts of western Manitoba were fighting wet fields in the second week of May, but Dan Mazier, president of Keystone Agricultural Producers, says that’s nothing new.

Mazier said it is not unusual for seeding to begin between May 1 and May 10.

It makes it no less frustrating for farmers near Minnedosa, however, some of whom had just started their tractors in the first week of May when the region was hit by up to 25 millimetres of rain May 7, grinding field work to a halt. Other areas north of the Trans-Canada Highway, including Forrest and Rossburn, saw the most rainfall.

“Lots of people just got nicely started,” Mazier said. “I know, ourselves even, we just got going on Saturday (May 6). There was the odd guy who had put in some wheat here and there, like, picking their fields, but they’re all sitting against this wheat stubble from last year and it has a tendency to be a little bit wetter anyways, versus the canola stubble.”

As of May 8, seeding in southwest Manitoba lagged north of the Trans-Canada Highway, with five to 10 per cent of seeding complete compared to 10 to 15 per cent closer to the U.S. international border.

Producers in the area are not in “panic mode” yet, Mazier said, but the region is in sore need of some drying heat.

To the north, field operations had just begun as of May 8, with producers “challenged with determining which fields are dry enough to enter in,” according to the May 8 provincial crop report. “Fields in The Pas remain wet with limited spring activity occurring. Many producers throughout the region are also challenged with management of unharvested acres of canola, peas and corn.”

Rainfall near Dauphin ranged from 13-22 millimetres May 7, also stymying seeding efforts, while Mazier noted that fields near Swan River had only recently dried from the spring melt enough for traffic.

“Anywhere that’s unworked stubble, anything like that is pretty wet and the ground’s still cold and they just got about a half-inch of water,” Mazier said.

Conditions improve toward Sandy Lake and Shoal Lake.

Despite the delays, Mazier estimates that some producers in the west will wrap up their wheat seeding by mid-May and will then shift their focus to canola.

While unharvested acres were not as severe as Alberta, which had almost a million unharvested acres last fall, or in Saskatchewan with an estimated 1.3 million acres, an estimated 100,000 acres in Manitoba still had crop on the field when the snow melted.

About the author

Reporter

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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