Canola crop succumbs to final blow with May 30 frost

A blizzard, a frost, flooding, crusting, flea beetle and another frost have prompted many Manitoba farmers to reseed their canola

Manitoba farmers this week were scrambling to find canola and flaxseed to replant fields destroyed by a widespread frost early May 30.

“It’s as widespread as we’ve seen for frost for quite a while,” David Van Deynze, Manitoba Agricultural Services Corporation’s (MASC) claim services manager, said June 1.

“We can’t keep up with the claims coming in right now.”

Western Manitoba was hardest hit, followed by the central region, he said. Far fewer claims were coming from eastern Manitoba, he added.

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For many farmers, including pedigreed seed grower Warren Ellis at Wawanesa, this latest frost was the last straw. Ellis said he expects to have to reseed 30 per cent of his crops. The canola he planted May 5 was frozen and cut down by sleet May 17 during a storm that hit most of the rest of southern Manitoba. It recovered. But then it was damaged by flea beetles.

“I just don’t think it was meant to be,” Ellis said in an interview June 1. “We had a faint hope that maybe the canola was hardened off and maybe would survive the frost, but no, we went out this morning and it’s not coming back.”

Ellis’s story is typical, said Anastasia Kubinec, oilseed specialist with Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Development. A lot of canola fields were borderline after the last storm, flea beetles and soil crusting, she said. That’s probably why so few farmers were waiting a few days to see how their crop might recover. Other factors included rain in the forecast and approaching seeding deadlines.

Borderline

The full crop insurance coverage deadlines for canola in Areas 1 and 2 are June 15 and 10; the reduced coverage deadlines are June 20 and 15.

Farmers should increase their canola-seeding rate to aid earlier maturity, Kubinec said. It’s just three months until September 1 and the risk of a fall frost.

Ellis said he’s never seen flax frozen in the spring before and was trying to get an expert opinion before reseeding it, he said.

While popular varieties of canola could be in short supply, most farmers should be able to find canola of some type to plant.

According to a Facebook post, one seed grower said farmers in the Somerset area were reseeding 15,000 acres of canola and 10,000 of flax.

“Every half-ton I saw yesterday (May 31) had canola seed in the back of it,” said Kubinec. “Monsanto and Bayer, their reps are running around with canola seed, so is Canterra, and Brett Young Seeds was taking seed orders this morning.”

While having to seed canola fields again will eat up some of the farmers’ time, it won’t be much of an additional cost, she added.

“Some of the companies, if they’re reseeding back to the same variety, they are giving them a heavy discount on the seed, and they will get a reseed benefit from MASC.”

Below zero

WeatherFarm data shows the temperature hit -2 C 5 a.m. May 30 in Fannystelle. Areas around Elm Creek and Elie fell to -1 around the same time. In Brandon, temperatures dropped to -3.

Bill Craddock, who farms near Fannystelle, said many of the fields in the region were “wiped out” by the frost.

“From Starbuck east we have been more fortunate, but west of Starbuck has been less fortunate,” said Ed Rempel, president of the Manitoba Canola Growers Association.

The frost compounded worries about the size of the crop in Canada, the biggest producer and exporter of canola, a futures trader said. Some crops on Western Canada’s Prairies have struggled with too little moisture, and the number of acres planted was already smaller than expected.

MASC still hadn’t caught up to all the reseeding claims from the storm May 16 to 18. By May 28 MASC had received around 750 — not far off the average of 800. But as of June 1 the number was 1,250 and expected to keep rising this week, Van Deynze said.

MASC was so overwhelmed with claims that in some cases it is allowing farmers to reseed canola back to canola without first getting it adjusted or leaving a check strip. However, that option is only available in certain areas and farmers must get permission from their local MASC office first, Van Deynze stressed.

Some crop insurance seeding deadlines have already passed and more are approaching.

For example, the deadline for seeding soybeans and getting full crop insurance coverage in soybean Areas 2 and 3 was May 31. The reduced coverage deadline for soybean Areas 2 and 3 is June 6.

The full and reduced coverage deadlines in soybean Area 1 is June 6 and June 11, respectively.

The deadline for seeding grain corn and getting full coverage in grain corn Areas 2, 3 and 4 was May 30; the deadline for reduced coverage is June 4.

The deadlines for full and reduced coverage in grain corn Area 1 is June 6 and June 11, respectively.

Get the full list of crop insurance seeding deadlines on the Manitoba Agricultural Services Corporation’s website.

About the author

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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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