Harvest behind schedule in Manitoba due to wet year

NEAR ST. ADOLPHE, MAN. –

The race is on to get crops off the field and in the bin, as a slow start to the growing season and wet fall weather have delayed this year’s harvest.

“We’re probably a good, in between three and four weeks behind because of our wet spring,” said Kevin Stott, who farms near Niverville, Man.

While the sun was shining Wednesday, weather conditions this year have done little to help Manitoba farmers.

It’s expected to become the wettest year on record in Winnipeg, with 2022 on track to surpass the previous high set back in 1962.

That’s had an impact on the start of the growing season, and in turn, harvest.

The work is only 47 per cent complete across the province, according to the latest Manitoba crop report.

That’s about three-and-a-half weeks behind schedule, compared to the five-year average of 79 per cent, which is how much of the crop farmers would typically have harvested at this point in the year.

Stott said in addition to stress, the delay just makes it more difficult to get the job done.

“You have shorter days to work,” he said. “You end up having an eight-hour day now instead of a 10 or 14, which you’d like. It takes a little longer to dry. There’s dew in the morning. You’re starting a little later, hence the short day.”

Although not unheard for this time of year, recent frosts have only made matters worse. Western Manitoba was hit on Sept. 22, and there was frost in much of the rest of the province on Tuesday.

“For the most part, most of the spring-seeded cereals and pulses and oilseeds are mature and hoping that there’s not too much damage because of the frost,” said Bill Campbell, president of the farm lobby group Keystone Agricultural Producers.

It’s a sentiment echoed in the crop report.

“Some crop injury is expected in green (immature) canola and soybeans, but damage is expected to be relatively light,” the report notes.

Challenges that Campbell, who farms near Minto, Man., said producers are hopeful they can overcome if mother nature cooperates.

“There is quite a bit of variability, but there has been some good yields, and so we’re optimistic that we can get a pretty good average crop in the bin,” Campbell said.

CTV News Winnipeg also spoke with two producers who farm north of Winnipeg. One of them said he just started harvesting his 3300 acres but could only plant two-thirds of those acres due to wet conditions this spring.

Another producer said he’s about 50 per cent finished, highlighting the variability across the province and even within the region.

It’s been one extreme to another. Farmers went from a drought last year to a wet year this year and are working to find ways to deal with the impacts of climate change, Campbell said.

“We all are aware of the element of extremes,” he said. “That seems to be the biggest impact that we have. We can handle five inches of rain spread throughout the month of June or July but not at one time.”

He said producers are diversifying what they grow, carrying the right insurance and managing their land to adapt.

Stott’s focused on the bright side: prices have stayed strong and the quality of the crop has been good.

He’s just hoping for favourable weather conditions.

“We got this beautiful weather to work with us right now, and at the end of the week, I think you’ll see a lot of acres torn off,” Stott predicted. 

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