Crops looking average at worst for 2020 harvest, producers say

A combine harvests soybeans in rural Blair, Neb., Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019.
A combine harvests soybeans in rural Blair, Neb., Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Nati Harnik

Manitoba farmers aren’t taking the weekend off — instead, they’re tending to their fields — but after a grim harvest last year, things are looking a little more optimistic.

President of Keystone Agricultural Producers Bill Campbell says most producers aren’t expecting this year’s crops to be very plentiful.

He says the areas that have seen lower rainfall totals are being saved by sub-soil moisture due to the large rain and snowfall totals in the later months of 2019.

“The rye and the winter wheat, they’ve probably handled some of this excess moisture a little better,” he says.

Read more: Manitoba farmers plagued by record-breaking autumn rain, with snow about to fall

Campbell adds his area south of Brandon sports one of the lower totals compared to the rest of Westman.

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“We’ve had less than five inches of rainfall for the growing season,” he says.

Fall-seeded crops are coming off the field now, with general harvest about two weeks away, according to Campbell.

He says farmers usually like to see around 10-12 inches of rain spread out through the season, rather than one giant downpour as seen in July.

Read more: Water levels drop at Manitoba’s Rivers Dam, but province warns more rain coming

Campbell says crops like soybeans, corn and sunflowers are still looking for more moisture.

Challenging weather conditions have also left three provincial farm groups releasing a joint statement asking producers to list any extra straw, hay or alternative feed.

The groups representing beef, grain and forage producers say consistently inconsistent weather has led to concerns some farmers may not have enough feed this year.

So far in 2020, the Hay Disaster Benefit program was activated for the second time in its history, which was also the second consecutive year.

The province has also given producers permission to graze Crown land.