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Rain shuts down Sask., Man. harvests

Rain and, in some regions, snow over the Thanksgiving weekend have shut the door on attempts to finish harvests in much of Manitoba and Saskatchewan, the two provinces’ ag departments reported Tuesday.

Northeastern Saskatchewan’s harvest was 99 per cent complete, and the province’s northwest was furthest behind at 91 per cent complete, before rain put a damper on further harvesting and fall field work, the provincial agriculture ministry said. Overall, the province’s harvest is 97 per cent complete, ahead of last year (96) and the five-year average (92).

The rain, however, did bring some much-needed moisture in certain areas, the province said. Two-thirds of the crop land was reported as having adequate topsoil moisture, up from less than half the previous week.

Substantial snowfall was reported in southern and eastern areas of Saskatchewan on Sunday (Oct. 12), as well as in parts of southwestern Manitoba near or north of Highway 1. Temperatures dipped below 0 C on several nights last week in Manitoba’s southwest, which still has a few cereal crops, about 70 per cent of its flax and most of its sunflower and corn crops to harvest.

Much of the flax is also still in the field in Manitoba’s northwest, though most other crops are completed and most farmers have moved on to fall fertilizer applications and tillage.

Light frosts were reported in most of Manitoba’s south-central region, west of the Red River. “Harder frosts will be welcome to aid in drydown of the later-season crops, and may be necessary for harvest operations to continue where field conditions are very wet,” the province said. Sunflower and corn harvests have just begun in the region, as well as east of the Red, where soybean crops also remain in the field.

Farmers in Manitoba’s southeast “are preparing themselves to make progress whenever possible even if it means ruts and the use of grain dryers,” the provincial ag department reported. “No one would be surprised if we had to wait until the ground was frozen to finish this harvest.”

Manitoba’s already-soaked Interlake region between Lakes Manitoba and Winnipeg got 35 to 45 millimetres of rain last week, followed by a “consistent hard frost” throughout the region this morning.

On average 35 to 40 per cent of the crop remains to be harvested in the Fisher Branch, Arborg, Riverton and Gimli areas, the province said, though some farmers in those areas still have more than half their crops in the field.

Interlake farmers, the province said, “are not only worried about completing the harvest but are concerned about future delays due to excess soil moisture and limited fall tillage in preparation for next spring. The recent rainfall significantly reduced any chance of cutting and baling anymore hay that is still standing.”

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