Manitoba farmers excited to get back to harvesting with warm weather to end September

After a week of cold temperatures, this long-term forecast is sure to put a smile on a Manitoba farmer's face. Silas Brown / Global News

One look at this week’s forecast for southern Manitoba is sure to put a smile on the face of a local farmer.

After a week of low overnight temperatures — some nights resulting in frost on the fields — highs in the 20s and overnight lows well above freezing are what farmers are looking for.

“When it gets that cold, it takes a while for everything to warm up,” said agricultural expert Harry Siemens. “It basically shuts down the maturity of the crop when it gets cold, so we haven’t seen a lot of progress.”

Though the 2020 growing season was a turbulent one, with big disparities in rainfall amounts across the province — the start to harvest was a pretty smooth one, allowing Manitoba’s farmers to get about 60 per cent of the crop in collectively as of last weekend.

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But since then, Siemens says things really stalled with the drop below seasonal temperatures, and are ready to make up for it this week.

“Canola is about 50 per cent done, then we have to wait for soybeans. So we’ve still got a good amount of cash crop coming off in the province. The 40, 50 per cent that’s left will need lots of sunshine — so this week will be just awesome.”

It hasn’t affected the outlook of local farmers all that much, who are still optimistic as they take stock of the work left ahead.

“It’s good that everything in the bin is in good shape, but there’s still a lot of work to do and I need a lot of good weather to get there,” St. Andrews-area farmer Curtis McRae told 680 CJOB.

McRae and farmers in his area north of Winnipeg had issues with insects to finish off the growing season — putting a small dent in what was otherwise a solid crop.

“My issue right now is the crops that were damaged by grasshoppers, that has delayed them and those are the crops I’m waiting for,” McRae said. “With the frost last week, I don’t really know [the extent of the damage] until I get out there in the combine, which will be at least two weeks from now.”
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Siemens adds frost isn’t always a bad thing — it can help farmers dry their crops and save operating costs — but nothing does that better, naturally than the sun.

“For the most part, the crops are going into the bins dry. They don’t have to buy the extra propane to dry it. Of course, when the harvest of corn happens, they will need to dry that.”

For Wawanesa-area farmer Simon Ellis, he can see the light of the tunnel, with just a few hundred acres left — but the final verdict won’t come down until he’s sitting in the cab of his combine.

“I’m very curious to see what the soybeans do. We had good soybean growing conditions, but we had a quite early frost that may have damaged them. Once we get into them, we’ll see the quality and whether or not we had much damage because of that frost.”

But just a fortnight away from the anniversary of a record Thanksgiving weekend snowstorm, Manitoba’s farmers know anything can happen.

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