Farmers stay positive about harvest

Although one Westman colony farm is reporting a considerable delay in harvesting, there’s optimism that the rest of the harvest will go smoothly now that the danger of frost has lessened.

Wheat, barley, canola and peas are the main four crops grown at the Decker Colony Farm near Hamiota, located 83 kilometres northwest of Brandon.

Jacob Waldner, who works at the farm, said that for the last two weeks, rainy, inclement weather had put a pause on the harvest.

Waldner went on to say he and other producers at the colony were able to get back into the field over the weekend after fair weather returned to the area.

The harvest at Decker Colony Farm is about one-third complete, which Waldner said trails far behind the progress of most years.

“Lots of years, we’re done by now,” Waldner said, adding that the wet spring led to very late seeding which, in turn, has caused the delay in harvesting.

Despite the frost that settled over much of Westman on Sept. 21, the last day of summer, Waldner thinks it’s unlikely that frost will cause any damage to the crops before harvest is complete.

In the Manitoba government’s weekly crop report, the most recent of which was released on Sept. 20, harvest was reported to be 40 per cent complete across the province — approximately three weeks behind the five-year average.

Echoing Waldner’s observations, the report cited “steady rainfall” as one cause for the stalled harvest, adding that farmers were “anxiously awaiting” drier weather to return to straight-cutting cereal and canola crops, and for breezy, dry days to dry down damp swaths.

Cooler, wetter weather hasn’t meant bad news for all producers, however, with the report stating that grass pasture growth has benefited from recent conditions, putting out enough growth in many areas to sustain fall grazing.

Most parts of Westman received at least 10 millimetres of rainfall, the report specified, with up to 40 mm near Forrest, 15 km north of Brandon, and also in Kenton, 72 km northwest of the Wheat City.

While the rain put a stop to harvest activities, it did benefit fall-seeded rye and winter wheat crops, which have begun to germinate well due to increased moisture.

While Keystone Agricultural Producers president Bill Campbell said some crops would have been affected by the Sept. 21 frost, it was still within a “relatively normal” range for the first frost in Manitoba.

“I think that date can be expected. The only concern is the later start for the crop.”

Most crops should be mature at this time, Campbell said, adding that frost can even be beneficial in terminating the growth of certain crops such as sunflower and flax.

Overall, Campbell said, harvest is progressing and the weather outlook for the next two weeks looks fairly ideal.

“Hopefully we can make some large [progress] with the harvest process and [move] closer to the finish line.”

Miranda Leybourne, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brandon Sun