Drought concerns persist, yield outlook sees downgrade

Manitoba Crop Report and Crop Weather report for July 27

Southwest Region

A warmer week again, with daytime temperatures up to 27 to 31 C; daily averages around 20 C. Minimum overnight temperatures ranged from 5 to 11 C. Some good rainfall in most of the region early in the week, rainfall amounts from 3 to 56 mm.

Crop growth has improved with rain, though any precipitation is welcome and all areas, particularly the north

and east part of the region, remain short for moisture. Topsoil moisture is temporarily adequate for 50 to 65% of the crops and short to very short for the remaining acres.

Winter cereals are very close to harvest. Spring cereal crops, especially oats, have rapidly changed colour. Crops have dried out on sandy ridges. Heat and dry conditions spurred rapid advancement this week, and most wheat crops are in the late milk to soft dough stages.

Early seeded canola has finished flower, and later crops are in full bloom, benefitting from recent rains. Peas are looking promising, but harvest has not started. Pea crops are rapidly ripening, and desiccation is planned in the coming days for many farmers. Flax is finished blooming, and appears to be an average crop.

Most soybean staging at R3 to early R4. Most fields are looking good, but will need ongoing rains during high water demand period.

Grain corn has mostly tasseled to some early silking. Most corn, both grain and silage has improved in both growth, colour and height with the rains and warm temperatures. Farmers anticipate that silage yields will be better than first expected. 

Grasshoppers continue to be monitored, some headlands and fields have received insecticide application. Concern has been mostly in pastures, forage fields, and cereal and canola crops. Producers are scouting for due to some reports of this pest presence in other parts of the province. 

Haying continues where possible. Forage availability continues to be a big concern for the region, especially as many producers have exhausted their surplus feed supplies. Producers are cutting everything possible. Yields are extremely variable depending on moisture levels; yields are coming in at 30 to 60% of average production. Productivity is best on new stands, and fertilized stands. There is more hope for a second cut following rains, and may be better than first cut. Since crops are short, availability of cereal straw will be limited. Rains have greened up some pastures. 

Pastures are rated as fair (30%), poor (40%) to very poor (30%). Hay fields rated as fair (40%), poor (20%) to very poor (40%). Topsoil moisture for hay and pasture is rated as 50% short and 50% very short. 

Dugout levels are quite variable; all are declining, some are dry. Water quality is a concern in low dugouts. Water supply is rated as 50 to 60% adequate, but significant rain is needed for replenishment. Water hauling to pasture troughs is becoming more common, some wells are being drilled deeper. Concern over adequate supply is increasing with continued dry conditions. The recent rains have not provided sufficient relief. 

Northwest Region

Temperatures moderated this past week, mostly keeping below 30 C across the region. Along with some precipitation, gave crops in the area a break from the recent intense heat and dry conditions they’ve been put through. Precipitation amounts ranged from 8 mm in Swan Valley to 40 mm at San Clara, with some localized areas in Swan River receiving more. Windy conditions over the weekend again contributed to evapotranspiration depleting soil moisture. Soil moisture conditions across the entire region are well below normal and struggling to support the crops, hay and pasture. 

The effects of the dry conditions continue to show in terms of reduced yield, burnt crops and depleted water sources. 

Spring cereals are into the dough stages. Spring wheat around Roblin/Swan River is approximately 50% in soft dough, while the southeastern part of the region is more advanced due to drier conditions. Spring wheat remains at 70% in good condition while the rest of the crop falls into fair/poor. Oats and Barley are in the milk stage and heading into dough. 

Canola remains very variable across the region. Approximately 30% of the canola is podded in the Swan River area, while Roblin is further ahead with more of the crop podded. Crop stage is less advanced in The Pas. 

Approximately 50% of the crop in Roblin/Swan River is in good condition, while the remainder of the crop fits into the fair/poor condition. 

Field peas across the region are fully podded and continue to ripen. Desiccation has begun near Roblin, and will follow shortly in the rest of the region. Approximately 50% of peas are in excellent condition in Roblin; 50% in good condition in Swan River and the remainder of peas are in fair/poor condition. 

Soybeans for the most part continue to flower and are in the R1 to R2 stage and headed towards podding. The recent rain last week will have a large impact on crop condition. Additional rain would put the crop in better position for a good yielding crop. 

Flax across the region is in the boll stage and continuing to ripen. Yields are expected to be lower in areas that did not receive moisture throughout the season. 

Bertha armyworm monitoring will wrap up this week with all traps remaining in low risk category. Grasshoppers continue to be a concern where hay is harvested or pastures requiring control and the grasshoppers moving into nearest crops. Some control in crops have been required as feeding increases. 

Conditions on the eastern side of the region are very dry with very little to no forage growth with grasshoppers consuming what forage is there. States of Agricultural Disaster have been declared in Alonsa, Lakeshore, McCreary, Mossey River, and Ste. Rose. The western part of the region received some rain last week that has improved conditions, but the whole region still requires additional moisture. First cut tame beef hay operations are wrapping up, and dairy producers aiming for high quality have completed second cut harvest. Possibility of a second cut for beef producers will depend timing of first cut, the age of the stand, fertility, moisture received and grasshopper pressure. Silage and greenfeed harvest of cereals continues with initial reports from early seeded fields indicating average yields. Corn silage fields are tasseling. Producers are baling ditches, cattails, sloughs and other accessible forages to increase winter feed supplies. Producers continue to monitor for water shortages and in some cases alternate arrangements have been made to supply water to livestock. 

Central Region

Sunny, warm conditions continued, with isolated rainfall events mid- week brought up to 25 mm in areas located mostly in the southern part of the region while much of the rest received only around 5 mm. On days with north to north east winds a haze of smoke and humidity shaded the region, originating from forest fires northern Manitoba. 

High daytime temperatures were constant, with higher humidity. Overnight lows cooled below 20 C, but with minimal dew. Topsoil moisture availability is very poor to good in areas with recent rainfall but continues to deteriorate in areas without rainfall as crops extract whatever available moisture remains. Rain is needed to replenish soil moisture in all areas of the region. Damage is already done for many crops in the region. 

Winter cereals are ripe to nearly ripe. Harvest of perennial ryegrass and fall rye has started with more being swathed ahead of harvest. Early yield reports for rye is in the 60 to 70 bu/ac range in the eastern side of the region. Wheat, oats and barley are turning and ripening rapidly with the prevailing weather conditions. Many cereal fields have short stature being stressed from moisture deficit and high temperatures. Spring wheat harvest expected to start next week in the Altona to Winkler area on the earliest fields planted. Some barley fields also look very close to harvest. Cereal straw is expected to be in high demand this season as crops are short and hay harvest poor. Straw cost calculators are available from MB ARD. 

Weed patches are showing up towering above the crop in a number of fields. Now is a good time to investigate those patches to determine their species, origin and cause and sample if suspicious to herbicide resistance or possibly a new or noxious weed that should be removed before harvest. Pre-harvest product for perennial weed control and harvest management will begin soon as some crops are ripening rapidly. 

Field peas are looking fair to good with staging ranging from late flowering to ripe. Harvest of earliest fields on lighter soils west of the escarpment has started with yield report in the 30 bu/ac range. More fields look close to ripe and yield expectation is for closer to normal. Pea straw is being baled up by local cattle producers in need. 

Canola staging varies from early flowering to almost ripe in the more advanced fields. Some fields remain quite stagey. Diamondback moth larvae control measures reported applied to canola fields in the southeast corner of the region. Flax fields are short in stature, with some still flowering and but most in the boll and some even starting to turn. 

Soybean fields are beginning full pod to beginning seed (R4 to R5). Moisture requirement is high during flowering and seed development and therefore critical to these crops at the moment. Some soybean fields are showing signs of moisture deficit stress. 

Dry edible beans are generally still looking good with some fungicide applications still happening in areas where crop yield potential is good and received recent moisture. Overall crops are short, with many starting first pin bean to full pod (R2 to R4). Bacterial blight varies, but is generally lower so far this year. 

Sunflowers are tolerating the warmer temperatures but stands are relatively short and in need of moisture. Staging is in the reproductive stage ranging from inflorescence opening to flowering (R4 to R5). 

Corn growth varies with moisture conditions. Most fields are tasseling but growth is slowing with the poor moisture conditions. Some fields show evidence of severe moisture deficit with leaf rolling symptoms and varying plant height across fields. Poorer fields have stopped developing and their viability is in question without rain in the immediate future. 

Potato crops are in different stages of tuber formation and bulking, a critical time for supplemental irrigation. The Late Blight risk forecast suggests very moderate to high risk of the disease. High aphid numbers were trapped in all seed production areas. European corn borer adults continue to be trapped at higher numbers, and now early sightings of egg masses and larvae are being reported. Early blight is showing up in more fields, and susceptible varieties may need fungicide protection if scouting showing high incidence. 

Haying progressed well with the dry conditions. Harvested quality is good to excellent but yields are below normal with older hay fields well below normal. Some spring seeded cereals are coming off as green feed having reduced grain yield potential. Hay and pastures have stopped growing as moisture conditions continue to deteriorate. Overall existing growth is sufficient but declining for the grazing livestock so far but there is no new growth in many pastures. Grasshoppers are a problem in hay and pastures. 

Eastern Region

Rainfall this week ranged from 6 to 18 mm across the region. While any rain is welcome, this week’s precipitation was too little too late for the early season crops. The region did see isolated showers in areas that received anywhere from 15 to 25 mm, but unfortunately, these events were localized so most areas missed out, the rainfall amounts received were not adequate to alleviate the dry conditions. Day and nighttime temperatures last week remained above normal. 

Stress from lack of moisture is widespread throughout all districts and overall crop conditions continued to deteriorate. Crop development was being pushed along at a rapid pace in the warm dry conditions. Rainfall will no longer help cereals and peas, but may have minimal benefit to flax and canola. Corn, sunflowers, and soybeans would all still benefit. 

Winter cereals are ripening, harvest will begin shortly and likely be in full swing by the weekend. 

Spring cereals are in the seed filling stage. Wheat is suffering from moisture stress, many fields have prematurely dried down which will have an effect seed fill and bushel weight. At this point the cereal crop looks to be fair to good depending on moisture levels the particular field received. Yield potential is expected to be lower than average due to dry conditions but average yields may be possible in some fields. Poorly managed stands, particularly in terms of fertility, are looking rougher. Oat crops have not fared as well in the hot dry conditions. They are drying up and dying. Over all poor yields in oats are expected. 

Corn is at the tassel/silking (VT) stage. Plants are short and stressed, leaf curling due to lack of moisture due to hot/dry conditions was evident. Corn still has the potential to benefit from rain but it will be required very shortly for good yield potential to occur. 

Field peas crops are hitting R6 to R7 and maturing quickly. Attempts at harvesting have been made but too many greens in sample. Desiccation applications have been done and are ongoing. Yield potential has been significantly blunted. Crop has short stature and has not lodged. Lots of pod and seed abortion due to drought stress.

Canola is at the pod filing stage, flowering has ended abruptly. The crop is short in stature and yield potential has been lost. Producers are expecting lower than average yields. Diamondback moth larvae were increasing in numbers, with insecticide applications widespread in the southern part of the region. 

Sunflowers are at the R5 stage. Crop is showing no signs of lack of moisture stress given its rooting depth, and tolerating dry conditions so far. 

Flax is at the boll filling stage with flowering ending abruptly. Plants are shorter in stature and bottom leaves browning off due to lack of moisture. Soybean aphids observed only rarely so far and at low levels. 

Soybean are short in stature with widespread leaf flipping as a drought stress symptom. Given the crops long season, there is potential for some yield preservation and increased pod set if significant rain occurs soon. 

Second cut hay is ongoing, yields of 25% of normal have been reported. Lack of rainfall is responsible for poor regrowth after first cut. For both dairy and beef hay, level of stand management and luck in getting timely rain remain the two most important factors determining hay yields. First cut tame beef hay is estimated at 60% of normal yields and wild hay yields are less than 50% of normal. Some tame and wild hay will not be cut a second time due to poor growth. Quality seen as fair/average. Pastures condition is very poor with feeding continuing on pasture by some producers. Low hay yields have producers looking for extra forage to bale. Some producers are cutting oat and barley fields for silage or greenfeed. Additional acres of corn meant for grain production will be silaged as well. Grasshoppers continue to be a concern in some areas. Cattle on pasture are seeing increased pressure of foot rot and pinkeye. 

Dugouts remain empty or close to empty and pumping from rivers has proven very difficult because of low river levels. Most producers water from wells or fill dugouts from wells, so dugouts condition are not a good indicator of available water supply. Producers, both beef and dairy are becoming more concerned about feed supplies going forward. Prices for standing hay have increased dramatically as producers try and secure enough feed for their herds. Increased rainfall over the coming weeks will be absolutely critical if improvements in the situation are to occur. Livestock water availability is rated as adequate. 

Interlake Region

Severe drought conditions continue across the Interlake, with an additional four municipalities (Fisher, Grahamdale, Rockwood, and West Interlake) declaring a State of Agricultural Disaster over the past two weeks. 

The earliest pea crops and perennial ryegrass fields have started harvest. Yield reports unavailable at this time. 

Cereals are ripening, and may have less seed formed in the head than expected, due to continued drought and heat stress from earlier sensitive flower stages. 

Canola crops have finished flowering across the region, with a few crops nearly finished blooming towards the south end of the region. Heat blast and drought stress in canola has been severe, with many pods on plants failing to form, or filling only a partial pod. This will result in significant yield reduction. 

Flea beetle feeding has been noted on some canola, together with grasshopper pressure, moving in from cut hayfields and ditches. 

Soybeans are reaching R3-R4 in many fields, some beginning to form seed in those pods at R5. Most plants are small with short stature and minimal branching. Some flowers appear to have been left unfertilized or aborted by the soybean plant, and no pod formation is expected. 

Most sunflowers are reaching R5 stage, beginning full bloom. Traffic from tourists taking photos has started, and the public is reminded to stay at the edges of private land, and not to damage or take sunflowers from the fields. 

Corn is struggling to grow, and beginning to tassel, many crops remain four to five feet tall. 

Hay yields quite poor; vary from 10 to 25% of normal. Age of stand, spring frosts fertility, insect pressure and drought all contributing factors. Pasture growth is not keeping up to livestock requirements, and up to 15% of hayland has not been cut because of no salvageable growth. Supplemental feeding on summer pastures occurring. Water wells being drilled and dugouts being deepened due to lack of drinking water for livestock.

About the author



Stories from our other publications