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Manitoba farmers ‘itching’ to start seeding, optimistic despite dry winter

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Winter in parts of Manitoba was a little parched, but farmers say they’re feeling sunny about the seeding season.

“With the beautiful weather we’ve been having here in Manitoba, farmers are definitely itching to get out in the fields,” said Jake Ayre, vice-president with Keystone Agricultural Producers (KAP).

He said right now, there is enough moisture to grow crops, but only time will tell.

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“When you get to those 30-, 35-degree days, is there enough residual soil moisture that the plants can put those roots down deep, and access some of it?” he said.

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A good rain would not be rued, the Minto, Man., farmer said, but no matter what, producers will be putting seed in the ground.

“You’re going to try and have that best opportunity to grow a crop, whether it’s for cash, for revenue, for animal feed,” Ayre said.

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There are typically two units used for setting crops in dirt, he said — either a seeder or planter.

A seeder is usually used for crops like wheat, barley, oats, canola and flax, Ayre said. “There’s an air fan that blows through pipes, and a meter that’s either electric or hydraulic that springs at a certain revolution per minute, and that equates your rate. Pounds to an acre,” he said.

“Seed goes down from the tank, over the meter, through the pipes, fan blows through, and then there’s a little knife that cuts…a little trench, the pipes drop the seeds down, and then there’s some fertilizer either off to the side or beneath,” he said.

Jake Ayre puts a seed into a planter disc to demonstrate its function. Screen capture from a Zoom interview with Jake Ayre, VP, KAP.

A planter is typically used for corn, soybeans and sunflowers, and works on discs, Ayre said. The discs cut a trench cut, and a rotating meter sucks seeds onto a separate disc in the meter, which then drops the seed into a tube guiding it into a trench.

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“It’s going to precision-place each seed into the ground,” he said.

In the meantime, producers are waiting on soil temperatures to warm up before seeding.

“I believe what you want for, say, your cereals, which is what you’re sowing typically first — that could be, wheat, barley, or corn — I think it’s five degrees soil temperature and warming,” Ayre said.

“You basically want to see a warming trend in the soil temperature. You don’t want to see it stagnant or dropping off. ”

The farmer said he said with the first sets of equipment expected to be in fields as early as next week, and some on the roads.

“As we see the seeding season started up, just a heads up to everyone that’s going to be on the highways that you will see an increased in farm traffic and heavy traffic. Just a reminder to everyone: slow down. Take your time. Let’s all get home safe to our families and loved ones.”

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