By Top Crop Manager
Manitoba has released its seasonal summary for the 2022 growing season after declaring harvest essentially complete last week.
The season came with a number of challenges beginning with a very wet spring, representing a “complete reversal” of spring 2021 conditions. Heavy rainfall from multiple storm systems from April to mid-June brought near-record amounts of water, leading to some locations accumulating 300 per cent or more of normal rainfall for the month of May. Overland flooding, saturated soils and other issues delayed seeding, in some cases up to four weeks behind averages. There was just over 880,000 in unseeded acres across the province. The challenge of the season also resulted in exhaustion for many farmers and workers.
The main pests of concern this year were flea beetles and grasshoppers, with flea beetles causing severe damage to early canola crops and requiring multiple foliar insecticide applications.
Crops mostly caught up during the development stage thanks to a warm and moderate early summer. Harvest began slightly later than usual, with a few rain delays leading to an extended harvest. The bulk of harvest only began in earnest on the second week of September and continued until the end of October. Many crop yields were above-average thanks to rains in July and August, however some dryer regions reported lower yields.
One improvement over 2021 was cattle feed; producers reported better alfalfa, hay, greened and silage production this year, with average quality. Many producers were able to take multiple cuts, and rebuild feedstocks reduced to zero following the severe shortage from last winter.
Now, fall fertilizer and pre-seed herbicide application has begun, but has proceeded at a slower pace than typical years due to the delay in harvesting. Topsoil moisture relative to field capacity remains dry to optimal in much of western Manitoba, and wet in the eastern/interlake regions. Rain is needed help recharge soil reserves for the 2023 crop.
Total accumulated growing degree-days (GDD) reached a high in Manitoba of 1976 GDD at Winkler, followed by Morden (1971) and Altona (1920). Arborg had the greatest increase over normal GDD accumulation at 122 per cent of normal, while Windygates was the lowest in Manitoba at 89 per cent. Precipitation as a percentage of normal reached a high of 158 per cent at Richer (618 mm) in the eastern region and a low of 75 per cent at Melita (240 mm) in the southwest region.