2019 was a crop year full of surprises

It was a challenging year, but the data shows there were still some surprising good yields

There were lots of surprises during the 2019 growing season, including just how well many Manitoba crops yielded, on average, despite challenges from April to November.

The good, bad and ugly are captured in Yield Manitoba 2020, out this week with the Manitoba Co-operator.

Of the 13 insured Manitoba crops under the microscope for the annual publication, nine yielded above the 10-year average, including the province’s biggest-acreage crops canola and red spring wheat yielding an impressive 44 and 62 bushels an acre province-wide.

Field peas, which saw a 32 per cent jump in plantings in 2019, yielded a record 55 bushels an acre.

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However, Yield Manitoba figures this year have two important caveats.

One is they are based on 97 per cent of the data in insured farmers’ Harvest Production Reports having been entered instead of 99.9 per cent, which is normally the case.

Second, around 400,000 acres of crop were not harvested when Yield Manitoba 2020 was prepared.

Once all the data is compiled yields will be different, but they aren’t expected to be significantly different.

Updated yields will be incorporated by the Manitoba Agricultural Services Corporation into its Management Plus database available online.

Even though many crop yields were above average a wet harvest reduced crop quality and forced some farmers to dry, adding to production costs.

Harvest delays added other costs and stress.

Many fields are rutted and will require work before spring seeding.

Other fields need to be harvested before seeding can start.

Not a lot of fertilizer was applied last fall either, which will add to farmers’ pre-seeding work.

While insured canola and red spring wheat yields were close to 2018 levels, and not far off the records set in 2017, soybean yields, averaging 28 bushels an acre, were the lowest since 2011.

It wasn’t a surprise. Farmers and agronomists know to yield well soybeans usually need a shot of rain in late July or early August and it didn’t happen.

Average yields for white pea beans (navy beans), winter wheat and flax were all below the 10-year average.

But barley, oats, grain corn, non-oil and oil sunflowers yielded above the 10-year average.

The results underscore the benefit of crop diversity.

Yield Manitoba 2020 provides a lot of insight to the 2019 crop. For example, insured wheat in the northern hard red category averaged six more bushels an acre than red spring. And both red spring and northern hard outyielded winter wheat.

Winter wheat plantings of almost 33,000 acres were down almost 85 per cent from the 10-year average.

ACC Brandon was Manitoba’s most popular insured red spring wheat in 2019 averaging 62 bushels on 1.65 million acres across the province.

It was a fantastic year for canola in Hillsburg-Roblin-Shell River municipality averaging 56 bushel on 66,662 acres.

About the author

Reporter

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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