Southwestern Manitoba farmers hard-pressed to finish on time

Some have barely started and it just keeps raining

Some Manitoba fields are so wet it’s unlikely farmers will get them seeded by the June 20 crop insurance deadline, say industry officials.

The Manitoba Agricultural Services Corporation (MASC) won’t know for sure until seeded acreage reports are tabulated later in the season, but officials are predicting unseeded acres will be higher this year than last due to excess moisture.

Seeding progress varies depending mainly on how much rain has fallen in recent weeks, but most areas including the east and southeast, Interlake and north and south of Riding Mountain National Park are behind normal. The southwest has been especially hard hit. For some farmers it’s the second year in a row.

“We really haven’t turned a wheel here yet,” Fred Greig, a seed grower south of Reston said in an interview June 2.

“Locally I’d say about 10 per cent is in.

“Now that we’re into June and… every second or third day we get rain — so all of sudden we’re not looking at starting until the middle of June and sowing into muck, so I think the white flag has been raised. Guys are thinking now winter wheat and fall rye.”

A Melita-area farmer who asked not to be named said only 10 per cent of his crop has been seeded.

Southwest Manitoba and southeast Saskatchewan are the wettest areas in Western Canada, with the highest percentage of unseeded acres, Bruce Burnett, CWB’s weather and crop specialist said May 29.

Much of the region went into the winter with saturated soils and has received above normal rainfall this spring, he said.

“There are some areas that aren’t going to get planted,” he said.

The southwest is pothole country, so water can’t run off, and the wet areas grow with each rain.

“In the southwest I’d say some areas are 50 to 60 per cent done and some just nicely getting going,” said Lionel Kaskiw, Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Development’s farm production advisor at Souris.

He guessed as of June 2, 50 to 60 per cent of the region’s cereals were in the ground and 20 to 30 per cent of the oilseeds.

Much of region was getting more rain at press time Monday.

“Some that are just starting I’m thinking won’t get it done,” he added. “The guys with a fair bit in say they’re leaving, say, 20 per cent of the field because it’s so wet. We definitely have wet conditions.”

“The unplanted area in western Manitoba is larger than what it was last year at this time,” Burnett said.

“If we get a dry spell… planting can proceed very rapidly and we still have time to get this crop in, but we’re certainly going to be cutting a fine line here because those areas that had heavy rain last week, they can’t afford to have anything more than a quarter inch of rain for the rest of the planting season or that will set them back.”

Last year 219,241 insured crop acres were too wet to plant by June 20, triggering $7.9 million of payouts under the Manitoba Agricultural Services Corporation’s (MASC) Excess Moisture Insurance program.

The year before 117,623 acres were to wet to seed resulting in $2.9 million in EMI payouts.

The record was set in 2011 when three million acres went , resulting in $161.7 in payouts.

Keystone Agricultural Producers president Doug Chorney said it was been another tough seeding season for many farmers again this year, as he wrapped up planting his crops May 30 near East Selkirk farm. He described himself as a relatively small farmer with larger equipment and some winter wheat in the ground.

“Anybody trying to farm say 4,000 acres with one air seeder they’re finding it a nightmare,” he said. ‘There are just not enough days. There are a lot of guys like that.”

Although the crop insurance seeding deadline for cereals in June 20, the odds of getting a good crop seeding that late are low, he added.

“Last year was an exception… but we’ll hope for a repeat,” Chorney said.

Recent warmer weather will help the crop that’s in the ground make up for being seeded later, Burnett said.

“This warm up in temperatures that we’ve seen is absolutely very positive for the farmers that have their crops planted,” he said. “If you remember last year we did get the crop planted but it didn’t develop very fast because we didn’t get warm temperatures right after seeding. That’s one difference this year.”

About the author

Reporter

Allan Dawson

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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