Rain, rain, come and stay: Manitoba farmers hoping for more wet weather before harvest

A field in Dugald, Manitoba. Irene Vaags/submitted

Friday night’s wet weather may have dampened the spirits of the average Manitoban, especially after weeks of hot and sunny conditions — but for Manitoba’s farmers, it came at the right time.

Areas in the southeast corner of the province saw between 30 mm and 60 mm of precipitation on Friday, according to Environment Canada’s Mike Russo, but some saw much more than that.

“Altona saw about 84 [mm], Morris about 67, and when you get into the northern Whiteshell area — up towards Pinawa — we saw up to 85 millimetres.”

That’s a significant drink for crops that had been getting rather parched over the past few weeks.

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“We’re seeing pretty good crops along Highway 3 towards the southwest corner of the province, and they tend to decline somewhat as they move north,” explains Dane Froese of Manitoba Agriculture. “However, yeild potential still looks good, and those areas are a little further delayed in overall crop development.”

Froese adds farmers in nearly every part of Manitoba — save for a slice of the southeastern corner of the province that was hammered with rain in early July — were left looking for more moisture over the past couple of weeks.

“Pastures [in the southeast] have struggled with that amount of moisture, and farmers have struggled to make hay,” he tells 680 CJOB. “In the northern part of that region, it’s quite dry and they desperately needed that rain.”

Froese adds producers who haven’t seen as much rain as they would like were saved in part thanks to leftover moisture from last year, mostly caused by a large snowstorm back in October 2019.

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Manitobans will start to see more combines, swathers and grain trucks from the highways in the coming days, as early crops like canola and wheat are starting to come off the field.

“So far, they’re showing good yield potential. Yield numbers for spring wheat are averaging between 50-75 bushels per acre. It’s good, but not amazing — we’ve had better crops.”

“However, given the conditions we’ve faced this year, most farmers are very satisfied with those values right now.”

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Froese adds more sensitive crops, like soybeans and corn, need a bit more rain before they’re ready to go.

“Yield potentials could be hurt a little bit, particularly on the later crops, where August moisture is absolutely critical in order to achieve full yield potential. Those sensitive crops need those August rains to fill grain head, and achieve good yields.”

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The weather for the rest of the weekend may not be what farmers want to see, as the soaked area of the province has a better chance of seeing any rain than Winnipeg — the Whiteshell and the Morden/Winkler area.

“There’s about a 30 per cent chance of seeing some showers as the disturbance moves through. The southeastern corner of the province, though, there’s a slight chance there of seeing some severe thunderstorm activity,” Russo explains.

As for Froese, he’s hoping for a “nice, even finish to the season.”

“We’re looking for a good inch, inch and a half of rain across much of Manitoba right now.”

“Farmers are just hoping most of that rain will fall before the major swing into harvest starts.”

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