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Farming ramps up in August

Crop and livestock summary for this week
A grain wagon unloads rye onto a waiting semi truck at the edge of the field on Brett Heaman's farm northwest of Virden on Aug. 12.

Harvest is fast approaching, and the new calf crop will soon be weaned. Fall is payday time for farmers. Everyone knows that the next few weeks can make a big difference to the bottom line.

By the end of the week of August 9th, Manitoba Agriculture sees some conditions that are common across the province this wet year, although there are always differences in some areas. The southwest region has seen cooler days in the past week, favouring an extended canola flowering period.

There were no damaging winds or hail caused crop injury in the region in the past seven days, but a band from Hamiota to Carberry saw rains up to 15 mm. A few locations need rain, where crops on well drained, sandy soils are showing minor water deficiency symptoms and have remained dry for the past several weeks.

As usual some areas are seeing increasing insect activity from aphids to grasshoppers, and farmers are intensively scouting fields to be prepared if insect damage reaches the economic threshold for treatment. There have been reports of some insecticide shortages as demand increases and supply chain issues persist. High levels of beneficial insect parasitism of aphids have been observed in many crops this year.

In spring cereal crops, kernel development is reaching soft to hard dough stage and wheat quality is rated mostly good to excellent, with some exceptions due to extreme moisture.

Fall rye is rapidly turning colour, with a limited start to harvest. Many fields are being swathed this week in the region. Winter wheat has reached physiological maturity. Pre-harvest herbicide application is underway or complete.

In the corn fields, rapid dry matter accumulation is beginning, and nutrient demand will be highest in the next 30 to 40 days. Silks are generally dry and dropping off in most fields.

Canola crops are variable across Manitoba, with some in excellent condition and others in poor condition with thin stands. Early crops have podded up well, with limited heat blast and flower abortion this year, and producers are watching crop development closely.

Flax crops are nearly done flowering; boll development looks good and disease issues are limited. Flowering appeared to be somewhat extended after rainfall and cooler conditions encouraged more blooms following a week of very high temperatures.

Soybeans have closed rows and crop development has moved very quickly, almost at ‘normal’ for the time of year. Soybean aphid numbers vary widely, and crops need to be scouted on a field-by-field basis. Grasshopper feeding in soybeans is increasing, as they move out of cereal crops and ditches.

The majority of field peas have finished flowering and are filling pods. Earlier seeded fields are turning colour. Excess rainfall has led to root rot in poorly drained fields or areas of fields. Yellow areas are evident in low spots and drains. Patchy maturity is expected in these fields.

Forage production has been difficult. More hay has been harvested as round bale silage than normal due to wet weather, but recently hay quality has improved with drier days. Dairy farms are about 70% finished second-cut hay, while beef cattle producers are starting to catch up as haying weather improves. Yields in the Southwest region have been reported as 4 bales/acre in grass stands, and 5 to 6 bales/acre in alfalfa. Native hay fields are wet, and harvest will be limited unless it dries up.

The Manitoba Hay Listing Service is active; producers with extra feed are encouraged to list their available supplies for sale.

Pasture growth has slowed, as expected for mid-summer and cattle feed supplies are adequate. Dugouts and sloughs are at 90% capacity, while creek and stream flows have slowed. Livestock water supplies remain sufficient.