Seeding window still open on flooded Man. fields

(Resource News International) — Some Manitoba producers in flood-affected areas are still a few weeks away from seeding, but specialists say there is no reason for panic, assuming weather co-operates through May.

As of May 5, the amount of flooded Manitoba farmland had retreated from its April 24 peak of 86,400 hectares to 64,600 ha, a Statistics Canada report released May 11 showed.

As of the April 24 peak, the province’s flooded area had covered 61 per cent of the 142,000 ha of farm land covered by Manitoba’s 1997 “flood of the century,” the government agency said.

“There is still quite a bit of land that is still underwater or where the water just came off, so those guys are nowhere near thinking about getting onto the land,” said Ivan Sabourin, president of Roy Legumex at St. Jean Baptiste, about 35 km north of the U.S. border in the Red River Valley.

Floodwaters in the area are receding more slowly than they have compared with other floods, Sabourin said.

A second crest at Fargo, N.D. three weeks ago meant there was still a lot of water that needed to flow upstream through the area and “we sure felt that delay,” he said.

Sabourin is not worried, though, about crops in the surrounding area.

“There might be a few changed decisions as to what the guys are going to plant but as far as yields go, post-floods, crops always have a decent year that year for whatever reason,” he said.

No panic

There’s no reason at this point for the province’s canola growers to worry about seeding, said Anastasia Kubinec, oilseed specialist for Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Initiatives at Carman.

The seeding deadline for canola this spring, as determined by Manitoba’s AgriInsurance branch based on historical results, is June 10 for the northern half of the province and June 15 for the southern section, where flooding was worst.

“If producers can get canola into the ground before those dates, they will probably be OK. They may not get stellar yields but they will do OK provided the rest of the growing season co-operates,” she said.

“If this were June 10, there would be reason to panic, but not yet.”

Bruce Burnett, director of weather and crop surveillance for the Canadian Wheat Board in Winnipeg, said spring wheat seeding in the eastern half of Manitoba has been really slow as the soil is still quite wet.

In those areas of the Red River Valley that drained first, there has been limited seeding activity. Those sections are drying out, however, and provided there are reasonable drying conditions, seeding activity should pick up there this week, Burnett said.

Wheat seeding in low-lying areas close to the Red River is still a week to two weeks away, he estimated.

“I generally consider this week to be the optimum week for wheat planting in parts of Manitoba but there is no reason to panic. We have this week and then there are still a couple weeks left in May, so I don’t think anybody is pushing the panic button on this,” Burnett said.

Wheat seeding in the drier western half of the province, west of Portage La Prairie, is coming along well. Producers there were able to make good progress over the past week and some have half of their wheat seeding completed, Burnett said.

Localized flooding of farmland was seen in western Manitoba when the Souris and Assiniboine rivers, tributaries of the Red, overflowed their banks.

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