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Drinking it in

Many farmers got their wish 
for rain in late May, although not everyone was so lucky

Last week was a cool drink of water for much of Manitoba, but patches of the province are still gasping for rain.

Late May broke the dry spell that had been gripping almost all of agricultural Manitoba for April and May.

“The rain that happened a week and a half ago didn’t really hit the southwest and northwest areas, but really, last week we did see rain kind of across the province and we are seeing better conditions for crop growth,” Manitoba Agriculture’s Anne Kirk said. “It is kind of hard to tell how that is actually affecting the crops at this time.”

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In the northwest, Roblin soared from single-digit rainfall in the month of May to 57.8 millimetres after a soaking rain May 24, according to Environment Canada. Swan Valley, meanwhile, measured 59.5 millimetres in the last month as of May 28, according to Manitoba Agriculture’s rain watch. The northern region had been watching soil moisture steadily decline in the month before.

Much of eastern Manitoba, the Red River Valley, Pembina Valley and parts of the Interlake joined the list of areas to see the much-needed moisture.

Over 41 millimetres of rain fell over Zhoda in the last weeks, while Altona sat just shy of 31 millimetres from May 1-28, Windygates measured 64.2 millimetres in the same period and Carman and Somerset ranged around 26 millimetres, according to Manitoba Agriculture data.

Teulon was among the wettest in the Interlake, with a total May rainfall of 36.6 millimetres as of May 28 by Manitoba Agriculture’s count. The bulk of that fell May 24-25.

For other areas, some only miles away from those soaking rains, the last weeks have made little difference.

“The amounts range in each region from, like, two millimetres to 45 millimetres of rain, so it’s really pretty spotty,” Kirk said. “It really depends on if you are in an area that got the 30 millimetres or if you’re in the area that got the two millimetres of rain. Obviously, the people who are getting about an inch, that’s really beneficial for the crop, but it’s hard to make a blanket statement because the amounts are so variable.”

Storms brought 44.7 millimetres of rain to Reston in southwest Manitoba as of May 28, while Bede, 28 kilometres to the south, saw just over 16. Likewise, Minnedosa enjoyed a downpour May 24, bringing it up to 36 millimetres for the month, while Forrest, just north of Brandon, failed to break the single digits.

In the Interlake, Environment Canada still rates Gimli as seeing less than 20 millimetres of rain in the last month, while Manitoba Agriculture still measures May precipitation in the teens for Inwood and Arborg.

Both Moosehorn and Rorketon had yet to break 10 millimetres of rain in May as of print time.

Amir Farooq, Manitoba Agriculture pulse specialist in the west, says western Manitoba just south of the Trans-Canada Highway got, “a fair amount of rain,” and crops were germinating well.

Areas north of Hwy. 1, such as Shoal Lake, were less lucky, he added.

“There are some areas where they can use more rain,” he said.

Rains also skirted the far southwest. Melita, Boissevain and Waskada all saw less than 20 millimetres May 1-28, according to Manitoba Agriculture data.

The rains may also help beat back the flea beetles, Farooq added.

“Mostly, flea beetles, cutworms, they mostly come in those dry conditions. Hot and dry weather always attract more insects,” he said. “I think mostly canola and those longer-season crops, they can use more rain at this stage.”

Environment Canada had forecast rain for May 29-30 as of print deadline.

About the author

Reporter

Alexis Stockford

Alexis Stockford is a journalist and photographer with the Manitoba Co-operator. She previously reported with the Morden Times and was news editor of  campus newspaper, The Omega, at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops, BC. She grew up on a mixed farm near Miami, Man.

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