Managing a wet, cold and stressful harvest

Top Crop Manager
Thursday, 11 October 2018 | Western Canada
By Top Crop Manager
The Prairie provinces have endured a long hot dry summer with minimal relief as recent cold weather continues to hamper harvest progress. Below are links to updated crop reports and Manitoba Canola Growers share tips for managing a wet, cold and stressful harvest season.

Producers are encouraged to have open conversations with their bankers because there are opportunities at the farm finance level that could provide relief, says Roberta Galbraith with the Manitoba Canola Growers. In addition, talking to your elevator can help figure out if there is "wiggle room" to take on grain to alleviate growers who are tight on space. There is also the possibility to ask if the elevator can dry the grain and at what cost. Finally, Galbraith encourages producers to talk to their neighbours and friends to check-in or potentially collaborate on getting a task done. 

Overall the latest crop reports show that harvest progress is slightly behind average in all three Prairie provinces as a result of cooler wetter weather. However, slow harvest progress across Western Canada continues to be price supportive for the canola market according to Farm Credit Canada

  • The latest crop report from Oct. 2 predicts the cold weather to continue into next week, but weather permitting, farmers who have access to grain dryers are likely to be combining, with priority given to higher valued crops.
  • Provincial harvest progress is 40 per cent behind the five-year average with 40 per cent of crops harvested, 24 per cent are in the swath and 36 per cent still standing. 
  • Since the end of August, crop quality has started to deteriorate due to the wet conditions and is now expected to decline further. The grading for hard red spring wheat and durum wheat are still above short and long term averages, but the grading of oats and canola are lower than average.
  • Seventy-eight per cent of the crop is now in the bin, up from 73 per cent last week but behind the five-year (2013-2017) average of 84 per cent for this time of year.
  • Many producers were able to return to the field last week, but wet and cool weather continues to slow progress in much of the province.
  • Topsoil moisture conditions continue to improve with the recent rain and snow.
  • Harvest is most advanced in the southwestern region, where 90 per cent of the crop is now combined. The southeastern region has 89 per cent combined, the west-central region 70 per cent and the east-central region 64 per cent. The northeastern region has 63 per cent combined, while the northwestern region has 43 per cent combined. The numbers for the southern regions are unchanged from last week, whereas the numbers for the central and north regions have shown progress. 
  • Some harvest progress last week, as weather permitted, but rain/snow showers have left fields wet.
  • Harvested grain is tough to high moisture. Aeration or drying needed to reduce moisture for storage.
  • Snowfall has lodged standing crops, making them move difficult to combine.
  • Fall tillage, soil testing and fertilization is occurring as conditions permit.
Additional resources include what to do when there's snow on canola and a list of organizations and phone numbers that provide support.

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