Westman harvest more than halfway done

While autumn started out well for harvest progress in Westman, producers have been facing higher humidity levels over the last week that, paired with fewer hours of daylight, have led to harvest delays.

Manitoba producers are more than halfway through their harvest, with progress sitting at 63 per cent, according to Manitoba Agriculture’s latest crop report. The report, released Tuesday, said this puts the harvest at three weeks behind the five-year average of 86 per cent completion by week 40.

While the region has seen several instances of frost, Keystone Agricultural Producers president Bill Campbell said the biggest threat to crops now is humidity and moisture.

“Whatever damage, frost-wise, is probably already in the quality of the crop, so a concern moving forward as we get closer to Thanksgiving and past that weekend is the quality of the crop,” he said.

Specifically, moisture can cause the crop to degrade by sprouting and mildew development, Campbell said.

A substantial increase in harvested canola was seen across the province, with more than 1.9 million acres now off the field. This brings the canola harvest from 30 per cent complete to 58 per cent, which equals an increase of around 925,000 acres.

While the increase is a “good signal” that harvest is nearing completion, a farm’s profitability is measured by the entire crop being put in the bin, not just one, Campbell said.

“Wheat acres or other cereal acres are not being harvested while the focus is on canola. So it’s good news, but it’s also a concern that other acres are not being harvested while we see that huge acreage of canola being harvested.”

To complete the harvest, producers are hoping for a stretch of favourable weather, Campbell said.

“The harvest fleet is large and we can accomplish quite a bit if Mother Nature and the weather co-operates with us,” he said. “We just need to string a couple of good weeks together where there’s a lot of tasks that are being accomplished and we can stay in the mid-teens to the [low] 20s.”

The soybean harvest has started, and farms are wrapping up getting cereals off the ground as well. Yields for the crop range from average to above average, though some unharvested cereals have seen quality downgrading from recent wet weather. Staining, mildew and sprouting has affected late wheat and oat crops.

Fall tillage and fieldwork is underway in farms that are caught up with the harvest, or when producers have been able to work during spells of rain that paused harvesting efforts.

Grain moisture across Westman was dry or very close to being dry, the report stated, though later in the week harvest became more difficult due to increased humidity levels. Producers in southwestern Manitoba are also having problems with getting standing canola to dry after a few mid-week showers. Heavy fog and dew also contributed to increased moisture in standing crops.

Harvest at Holmfield Colony Farms Ltd., located near Killarney, 101 kilometres southeast of Brandon, is around three-quarters done, said Tim Waldner.

“There’s probably a thousand acres of canola still left and probably 400 or 500 of wheat.”

If the weather remains fair, Waldner added, next week should be a good one for harvest.

Miranda Leybourne, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brandon Sun