Heavy rains threaten already-delayed Man., Sask. crops

CNS Canada — Heavy precipitation this past weekend has crop producers in Manitoba and Saskatchewan concerned about their already-late crops on wet soils, according to industry participants.

“In a lot of cases we’ve got the seed in the ground, the fertilizer in and the crops sprayed and there’s going to be an awful lot of acres where all that is gone,” said Norm Hall, president of Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan.

“There are a lot of acres that are flooded; some of that will run off and there might be a little salvaged out of what’s in the ground now but in a lot of cases that crop is just going to be gone.”

Heavy rains and high winds slammed much of Saskatchewan and Manitoba this past weekend and led to states of local emergency (SOLE) in 24 municipalities in Manitoba and 16 areas in Saskatchewan. Areas of southwestern Manitoba had 75 to 144 mm of rainfall, according to Environment Canada, while some areas of Saskatchewan saw 200 mm of rain.

The worst damage is in southeastern Saskatchewan, where crops have already been struggling with a wet season prior to this weekend’s precipitation, Hall said.

“Two inches on lots of water becomes too much but four to eight inches on too much water is just over-the-top,” said Hall.

Crop damage isn’t the only thing that some producers are concerned about, he added.

“We’ve got guys that are trying to save homes right now,” said Hall. “Crops are the second thing on their minds, they have to save their own homes and the neighbour’s homes because there’s flooding going on in the southeast that badly.”

Manitoba producers are struggling with the same situation right now as excessive precipitation hit all over the province with the majority situated in the southwest.

“It’s really impacted the ability of our members to put a crop in this year,” said Doug Chorney, president of Manitoba farm group Keystone Agricultural Producers. “We actually had that situation before this rain, so now with the extra rain we’ve sort of seen a lot of infrastructure damage to roads and personal property.”

RELATED: CropChatter: Impact of heavy rains on crops, June 30, 2014

Excessive rain has also been negatively impacting weed control, infrastructure and pasturing for dairy and beef producers, he added.

“That’s all been put in jeopardy, so we have a full-blown disaster happening,” said Chorney. “Highways are closed all around the Saskatchewan/Manitoba border, south of (Highway 1). Water was even running over the westbound lane of Hwy. 1 by Brandon yesterday.”

“Infrastructure in so many of the areas is being compromised too,” said Hall. “Roads are being washed out or cut just to save other roads. Bridges and culverts are being washed away. It’s not a pretty sight.”

Rapid buildup of rain has made this a significant rainfall in comparison to previous years, he said.

“In 2010, 2011, 2012, Hwy. 16 was never closed,” said Hall. “And right now it’s closed because there’s water going over it in two places in a 15-mile stretch and that’s never happened in this area.”

The total damages are unknown at this point, he added.

“It’s too soon to press the panic button on the crops, but there’s a real good possibility that a lot of these crops aren’t going to recover from this.”

— Marney Blunt writes for Commodity News Service Canada, a Winnipeg company specializing in grain and commodity market reporting.

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