Some Manitoba farmers got the rain they were praying for last weekend, some didn’t get enough and a few unfortunately also received hail.
The good news is a more general rain was in the forecast at press time June 12 and the hail, although devastating for a few farmers, was believed to be isolated.
“We’ve heard from about a dozen producers about hail (June 9),” David Koroscil, Manitoba Agricultural Services Corporation’s (MASC) manager of insurance projects and sales said in an interview Monday morning. “It’s too early to tell the extent of the damage. So far it seems fairly isolated.”
At least one farmer in the Pilot Mound-Crystal City area reported on social media that some of his young crops appeared to be destroyed by hail the evening of June 9.
There were also social media reports of imploded, empty grain bins in southwestern Manitoba and toppled hopper bottom bins near Langdon, North Dakota.
MASC must inspect hail-damaged fields before farmers rip them up. Depending on the extent of the damage and the crop, some can recover from hail when hit early in the growing season, Koroscil said.
Canola and cereal crops are quite resilient, he said.
Soybeans can recover sometimes too if the hail hasn’t cut the plant off below its growing point.
Another complicating factor is the time of year. Manitoba farmers have until June 20 to seed (and reseed) certain crops, including wheat, and still be eligible for full or reduced (depending on the crop) crop insurance coverage.
Farmers and MASC might have differing views on whether to leave a damaged crop or reseed.
The Canola Council of Canada’s website says farmers should aim for seven plants per square foot and warns yields can drop with five or less plants per square foot.
However, the council also notes canola branches out and compensates for fewer plants. But that can also result in uneven crop maturity.
As is common with thunderstorms, rainfall amounts varied widely last weekend. Several people in the Miami area recorded 30 mm June 9, but Manitoba Agriculture’s Somerset station received 50 mm.
Areas to the west, south and east received less and in some cases no rain at all over the weekend.
Much of agro-Manitoba was expected to get 25 mm or more rain June 13 to June 15, with the bulk of it expected Tuesday and Wednesday, said Bruce Burnett, Glacier FarmMedia’s director of Markets & Weather.
“The rain is looking pretty general for most of southern Manitoba,” he said in an interview June 12.
The weather models were showing a slow-moving low coming up from the Idaho-Montana border.
The result should be a slower, more general rain falling over several days.