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‘It’s ugly’: Late summer rains hit Manitoba agricultural producers hard

Keystone Agricultural Producers president Bill Campbell says last week's heavy rains could be disastrous for harvest season in Manitoba.
Keystone Agricultural Producers president Bill Campbell says last week's heavy rains could be disastrous for harvest season in Manitoba. File / Global News

The late summer storms that brought heavy rains to much of the province last week have many Manitoba farmers fearing the worst.

The storms — which according to Environment and Climate Change Canada brought as much 144 mm of rain to parts of the province — have left many farmers facing flooded fields in the middle of harvest.

“It’s ugly, there’s no other nice way of putting it,” Keystone Agricultural Producers president, Bill Campbell told 680 CJOB Monday morning.

“We’ve seen bales in water, I’ve seen swathes in water, I’ve seen standing crop in water — getting across these fields is going to be a challenge.”

Keystone Agricultural Producers President Bill Campbell.
Keystone Agricultural Producers President Bill Campbell. Joe Scarpelli/Global News

In a tweet Monday Manitoba Agriculture said the weekend was the wettest the province has seen so far this season.

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Campbell said less than half of the province’s roughly 10 million acres of farmland had been harvested before the skies opened up Friday and Saturday.

READ MORE: Manitoba canola producers face financial crunch amid trade dispute, says KAP president

He says producers could face serious losses due to both sprouting and simply not being able to get equipment onto the fields.

“If we take a conservative estimate of $400 an acre, we’re looking at approximately $2 billion that is sitting out on the crop,” he said.

“This is very, very, very bad… we are going to see some production loses.”

Campbell said producers with standing crops on their fields will be in better shape than those with swathed crops.

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“Standing crops? We’re going to look at some degrading of the grades and quality, it may go to feed,” he said.

“If it’s standing, it might be alright, but anything that is swathed, you know, it’s not good.”

And it’s not just cereal producers negatively affected by the rains.

Campbell says potato farmers, dry bean producers, and corn producers will also be stuck waiting for their fields to dry before harvesting.

READ MORE: Manitoba ag groups offering solutions to hay, straw shortage

He says producers will need at least week of extremely dry and warm weather to salvage the season.

But the forecast isn’t looking good.

Environment and Climate Change Canada is calling for more perspiration and dipping temperatures throughout the week.

Statistics from Environment and Climate Change Canada.
Statistics from Environment and Climate Change Canada. Global News

“I’ve farmed for pretty near 50 years and I have never encountered this type of scenario,” said Campbell.

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“We need some favourable weather, and I’m not sure that the forecast is really in our court.”

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