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Rain stalls Man. harvest, Sask. nearly done

Farmers in Saskatchewan are on last year’s pace to bring their 2008 crop in, while Manitoba farmers must now wait out rain that fell on much of their remaining crop on Sunday and Monday.

According to Monday’s crop report from Saskatchewan’s ag ministry, farmers have harvested 95 per cent of the 2008 crop, the same level as they had last year at this time, but ahead of the five-year (2003-07) average of 82 per cent.

Harvest has progressed the furthest in the northeast, where it is 98 per cent complete, with southwest and west-central regions not far behind. “The northwest has the largest amount of crop left in the field, but harvest is still reported as 89 per cent complete,” the province reported.

Yield estimates point to “well-above-average” production, the province said, and crop reporters estimate 86 per cent of spring wheat will qualify in the top two grades, well above the 10-year average of 68 per cent.

Crop damage during the past week in Saskatchewan was due primarily to wind and frost, as well as ergot, which is a “downgrading factor” in a number of wheat-growing areas, the province said.

Rain calls halt

Farmers in much of Manitoba called their field work on account of rain, which started Sunday afternoon in the province’s southwest and continued throughout most of farming Manitoba on Monday. A week of good harvest weather, however, had preceded the rain in much of the province.

Cereal and oilseed harvests in southwestern and northwestern Manitoba are largely about 95 per cent complete, the provincial ag department reported Monday. Yields in the southwest were reported as average to above-average, though wheat growers are concerned about the crop’s quality.

Cereal and canola harvests in the south-central region west of the Red River are complete, with yields reported in the average to above-average range. Earlier-harvested cereals are of higher grade due to later rainfalls that caused sprouting and mildew, the province said. The central region’s grain corn harvest is expected to start later this month, while soybean harvest is in “full swing” and the potato harvest is nearly complete in many parts of the region.

East of the Red, meanwhile, most crops have matured past the point of concern over frost threats. The region harvested mostly soybeans last week, reporting “very good” quality and yields around 30 to 35 bushels per acre. Grain corn is close to harvest time but needs to dry down first, while corn silage harvest is “well underway,” the province said.

In Manitoba’s rain-soaked Interlake, the rainfall that began Monday morning followed a week of predominantly dry weather, allowing farmers in the southern part of that region to harvest soybeans and sunflowers.

The northern part of the Interlake, however, is still “challenged” by wet fields and its harvest sits at 50-70 per cent complete. Alfalfa seed desiccation and swathing have begun on fields worth harvesting; haying continues where field travel is possible; and corn silage to date has yielded average to above-average.

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