Snowstorms across the region halted all harvesting progress. The storm brought heavy, wet snow to the majority of the region. Eastern parts of the region were harder hit compared to southern and northwestern districts. Brandon, Neepawa, and Carberry recorded 40 to 70 cm of snow. High winds were drifting over roads and accumulating snow in field margins. Producers rushed to harvest early last week on two or three good weather days. Most producers were doing canola as remaining cereals are wet and quality has deteriorated significantly. Most harvested grains require drying.
Harvest is 55 to 60 per cent complete in general. Wide variation exists between geographic pockets. South of Highway 1, progress is 65 to 75 per cent complete, while north of the TransCanada highway, progress is 50 to 60 per cent are harvested. Crops between Highway 16 and Highway 45 is about 30 to 45 per cent combined.
Producers are harvesting standing canola or flax before spring wheat due to grain moisture content and perceived value. Soybean harvest has started, with the majority in the southern parts of the region. Some flax fields were also combined, as producers were attempting to harvest standing crop.
Progress was made in chopping corn silage. No harvest started in grain corn to date. Sunflowers have reached R8 and entering R9. Head rot noticeable with high moisture conditions. No harvest started yet.
Weather and field conditions have made producers question as to whether any further harvest of green feed or hay will occur. Soils are saturated. The possibility of putting up corn silage will depend on snowmelt or ground freezing. Cattle are mostly off pasture except for those that plan for grazing beyond the regular pasture season.
Harvest stalled in many parts of the region last week due to inclement weather. The exception was The Pas where operations continued up until rain on Monday. Roblin had snow early in the week that melted and fields are currently snow free but wet. Swan River also had snowfall mid-week that melted and some harvest operations took place. Dauphin area was hit the hardest in the region with heavy snowfall at the end of the week that brought all operations to a halt. Overall harvest progress is 70 to 75 per cent complete.
The spring wheat harvest is estimated at over 95 per cent complete in all parts of the region. Wheat yields are 50 to 75 bu/ac. Canola harvest is 80 per cent complete overall: 75 per cent at Roblin, 85 per cent in Dauphin, 90 per cent at The Pas and Swan River. Canola yields range from 50 to 70 bu/ac. Some soybeans were harvested last week in the Swan River area, yields ranged from 25 to 35 bu/ac. Soybean harvest at Swan River and Dauphin is 75 per cent complete. Soybeans remain standing in the Roblin area. Flax harvest is done in the Swan Valley but 100 per cent remains standing at Roblin. No hemp harvest occurred this past week, but 5 per cent of buckwheat acres were harvested.
Producers are moving cows closer to wintering facilities and off pasture. Supplemental feeding is taking place in many areas due to rain, snow and wet conditions. Very little to no supplemental harvest is taking place now to secure additional winter feed supplies due to challenging wet field conditions. Corn silage harvest was progressing with challenging wet conditions as well. Corn silage yields are being reported to be average at 12 to 15 tons/acre. Those with feed left on fields will find it very difficult to bring them to wintering facilities and will have to wait until freeze-up. Many producers are shipping calves, culling cows due to feed shortage, and challenging environmental conditions.
In the Roblin and Swan River areas, corn silage harvest continues and is approximately 40 per cent complete with some leaf loss reported due to wind and snow. Roblin received 15 to 20 cm snow on Wednesday that stalled harvesting efforts. Forage growth for the year has halted and producers are grazing stockpiled forage, stubble fields or supplementing on pasture.
The week started with a couple of good drying days, with moderate wind and above normal temperatures. Wednesday conditions turned cool and damp ahead of days of rain and snow that lasted until the weekend bringing general precipitation across the region. A low-pressure system remained parked above southern Manitoba for days bringing rain, sleet and snow. As much as 50 to 65 cm of snow accumulated in fields in the Red River Valley, the northern part of the region and west of the escarpment. The rain equivalent of the precipitation received ranged from 6 mm in the Brunkild area to 48 mm in the Morden area. Most other parts of the region received 15 to 20 mm of rain equivalent.
Many areas were affected by power outages, impacting the ability to run aeration fans for stored grain and potatoes.
Harvest progress on Monday and Tuesday was mostly in canola and soybeans. Some of that grain was dry, while tough grain went on aeration or dried before long-term storage.
Overall harvest is estimated at 75 to 90 per cent complete with mostly soybeans, field beans, sunflowers, and corn remaining in the region. In addition, canola, flax and cereals remain west of the escarpment.
Silage corn harvest progressed where field access was possible. Poorer fields destined for grain are being harvested as silage. There is concern that producers will not be able to chop on a timely basis before the corn dries down to much.
Some field beans harvested last week where field conditions allowed. In the Portage area, some field beans that suffered extensive weathering damage over the last weeks were worked under. Harvest progress for this crop is around 45 per cent. Early reported yields ranged from 1500 to 1800 lbs/ac. Early reports after the snowstorm have indicated stalk and pod breakage occurred in dry beans, with visible yield loss now being eaten by geese.
Canola harvest is 85 to 95 per cent done with most acres remaining west of the escarpment. Swathed canola fields suffered sprouting damage causing yield and quality reductions. Flax is ripe and harvest progress ranging from 40 per cent west of the escarpment to 100 per cent below the escarpment. Sunflowers are mature with some harvest started in the Red River Valley where desiccation had taken place.
Commercial potato harvest continues but has slowed with the wet conditions. Reports of 50 to 65 per cent harvest complete.
Heavy snowfall is making grazing very difficult and cattle will need to be supplemented on pasture. Cattle are starting to be rounded up from pasture and brought home. Calves are being weaned and marketed.
Hay and cattle yards are very wet making them difficult to work in to move feed, cattle or manure. Livestock producers in need of feed and wanting to harvest additional hay and greenfeed are having difficulty with the wet weather. Early tests of greenfeed are showing signs of nitrates because of either drought or frost stress.
Precipitation accumulation for the week across the Eastern Region ranged from 25 mm to over 75 mm as a mix of rain and wet snow. Most of this occurred during storms on Thursday and Friday. Snowfall accumulations in some areas were as much as 40 cm. Southern districts of the received the highest precipitation amounts. Soils are saturated with standing water apparent in all fields. Some rivers and streams are overflowing their banks and flooding fields and pastures. In southern districts, significant flooding is occurring. Reports of bales underwater and full quarter sections of pasture and crops under a foot of water have been received.
A short harvest window occurred (about 36 hours) just before the storms began, when soybean and canola harvesting occurred under very challenging conditions. All the crop was taken in tough with grain dryers and aeration systems being used. Significant field rutting occurred. No field activity of any kind is expected for the rest of this week. Producers are assuming that significant frost and ground freezing will be needed to access fields and continue harvest. Mould on corncobs was reported along with increasing levels of head rot in sunflowers.
A few cereal fields remain in northern districts of the region, but straw has broken down under the weight of recent snow; grain quality has severely degraded.
Canola harvest was 95 per cent complete with an average yield of 45 bu/ac and good quality. Remaining acres to harvest were in northern districts. Soybean harvest was about 20 per cent complete. Yield reports ranged from 30 to 40 bu/ac with good quality. Sunflower harvest was about 5 per cent complete with yields of 3000 lbs/ac and good quality reported for oil types. Corn silage harvest was approximately 40 per cent complete with yields of 15 to 20 tons/ac with the weather continuing to delay progress. Overall harvest progress for the region was approximately 75 per cent complete.
Areas short of feed have had concerns increased due to not being able to get corn silage harvested and not being able to get a third cut of hay. Some secondary roads have become impassible making the movement of feed and cattle difficult. Feeding areas have become saturated and muddy making feeding operations difficult. Supplemental feeding on pastures continues.
Producers put in long hours to get as many acres combined as possible before the rain and snowstorm hit, some still going on Wednesday. Most precipitation came in storms on Thursday and
Friday. Rainfall amounts ranged from 10 to 50 mm. Snowfall ranged 5 to 50 cm, with isolated reports higher. Snowfall amounts generally declined from west to east; higher amounts were seen in some areas in the north. The storms caused power outages affecting farm operations including aeration and drying. The west side of the region was hardest hit, with reports of 1,200 hydro poles down between St. Laurent and Gypsumville; power will not be restored to some customers for several days.
Wet snow has caused crop lodging in some fields, which will further delay harvest operations. Ruts were becoming a problem in many fields prior to the storms. Based on experience in previous years, some producers chose to wait to continue harvest, due to the extensive damage that can affect crops for several years following.
Even with the snow, many soybean and cornfields are still standing well and producers are hopeful to be back in the fields, some as early as the weekend. The wettest fields will not be touched until hard frosts or frozen ground allow machinery back on.
Harvest progress is estimated as 75 to 80 per cent complete for the region, with some areas higher. Yields are highly variable, but much has come in at average to slightly below average.
All but the last few cereal fields have been harvested; lodging, sprouting and green growth are issues in remaining crop, and some will be flat on the ground following the snow.
Much of the canola is harvested, with many producers finished. Harvested acres estimated at 85 to 95 per cent complete. Sprouting will likely be a concern in swathed canola, but producers hope to take standing canola off in reasonable condition.
Much of the progress last week was in soybeans, with many producers making a big dent in acres harvested. Some report as much as 50 per cent to 70 per cent harvested, and a few have finished up. Many have not started though, due to poor field conditions and some longer season varieties. Total harvested soybean acres complete for the region fall in the 35 to 40 per cent range.
Sunflowers are mature and some fields have been desiccated. Early harvest has started, no yield reports to date. Some are standing well, and some have been hurt by the heavy wet snow.
Alfalfa seed harvest is done; some acres have been written off, others are seeing very good yields. Average yield at this point expected to be in the 300 to 500 lb/ac range.
Good progress was also made with corn silage, with some complete; many at 60 to 70 per cent complete. In areas where grain corn yield potential is poor, some fields are being converted to silage. Minimal acres of grain corn harvested.
Forage availability continues to be a big concern for the region. Although some supplemental feeding has started, cattle have had extended time on pasture as September rains allowed for decent regrowth. Indications of more animals going to market due to lack of feed available. Retrieving straw bales off wet fields is now a problem. Topsoil moisture for hay and pasture has improved, but standing water is a concern.