Manitoba Agriculture Crop Report – 2021 Seasonal Summary

Northwest Region Crop Report Prepared by: Manitoba Agriculture

2021 Seasonal Summary
October 13, 2021 |

Northwest Region

Spring seeding saw dry conditions, especially on the southeast side of the region, while some of the western and Swan Valley areas saw adequate seedbed moisture due to snowmelt. Cool soil temperatures, dry soil conditions, a late May frost in some areas and extremely strong wind events affected most crops, most noticeably affecting canola. Flea beetle pressure on canola was relentless and also contributed to spring reseed decisions, while some fields saw multiple insecticide applications to sustain a healthy crop. In addition, little to no spring precipitation was received and added to crop stresses. When some precipitation was received, it cause “staginess” in some crops which proved to be a challenge through the season. Strong winds and high temperatures also depleted soil moisture conditions as well as posed a challenge for pesticide application. In turn, weed control was less than ideal in some fields.

While precipitation almost reached 90% of seasonal normal accumulation in some areas, the timeliness of precipitation played a big factor this season. Most rainfall fell in mid to late August, too late to contribute to yield production in cereals, peas, and early canola crops. The majority of the region falls into the category of dry to very dry in terms of soil moisture conditions heading into winter. The dry conditions were made apparent this year in terms of production and yield as well as depleted soil moisture conditions and water sources. While some post-harvest fieldwork has been done this fall, some farmers are holding off due to dry conditions. Fall fertilization has been minimal and has picked up now that temperatures have started to cool.

The fall weather cooperated for the most part in order to get the 2021 crop harvested in a timely manner, while few acres of late canola and soybeans remain standing. The lack of precipitation and warm temperatures seemed to move crops to maturity a little faster this season. Fall precipitation along with warm temperatures caused regrowth in some crops as well as a new flush of weed growth. To this date no killing frost has occurred, only light/damaging frosts.

Field pea yields were lower than normal this year due to lack of moisture. Yields ranged from 35 to 40 bu/ac in the Swan Valley; 30 bu/ac in Roblin; 40 to 45 bu/ac in Dauphin and Grandview. Pea harvest was completed in a timely manner and there were no concerns with grade.

Winter wheat yields ranged from 45 to 55 bu/ac and fall rye ranged from 45 to 65 bu/acre. There were no issues taking off these crops. It is expected that winter wheat acres will increase this year in the Dauphin area.

Spring wheat harvest started out well and part way through the region received some rains, which put a hold on harvest progress. This resulted in downgrading due to sprouted wheat and lower falling numbers. Yields ranged from 60 to 75 in The Pas, 40 to 80 bu/ac in the Swan Valley; 50 bu/ac in Roblin area; 45 to 60 bu/ac in Dauphin area. Approximately half the spring wheat was graded 1CW while the remainder is spread into lower grades. Oat and barley harvest is complete. Lack of moisture has resulted in some oats being light-weight. Late rains also caused issues with regrowth. Oat yield ranges from 50 to 110 bu/ac across the region. Barley yields range from 45 to 60 bu/ac.

The canola crop had its share of struggles this season starting in the spring, with a lack of moisture causing germination issues and several extreme wind events. Followed by a persistent flea beetle season as well as a late frost in some areas, warranted reseeding in some fields. High temperatures during the flowering period caused significant heat blast, reducing yield potential. The canola crop yields were reflective of the condition of the crop and varied considerably. There were no large concerns with quality downgrading, however there was some damaged canola due to dry conditions and pod drop. Yields in the Swan Valley region ranged from 20 to 35 bu/ac in poorer stands and 40 to 55 bu/ac in better fields; 30 to 40 bu/ac in the Parkland district. There remains a few standing fields of canola across the region which puts harvest progress at 99% complete.

Soybean harvest continues towards completion across the region. Yields across the region range from 25 to 40 bu/ac and were dependant on the timely rains received in August. There are no concerns about soybean grade and green seed this year. Some flax has been harvested while some remains standing due to late rains causing flax to regrow and flower again. Flax yields so far range from 20 to 25 bu/acre.

With dry conditions throughout the season there was very little disease pressure on crops. The continuous high temperatures, along with lack of precipitation did cause stress on crops in terms of production and yield. Insects of concern in 2021 were cutworms in the spring, flea beetles in spring (requiring multiple applications) as well as late season flea beetles requiring control, grasshoppers and lygus bugs. Grasshopper feeding pressure was intense throughout the season on the east and side of the region and increased as dry conditions were favorable.

Hay yields across the Northwest region were approximately a third of normal with higher yields on newer, well fertilized stands with quality at average to above average. Late regrowth on hay fields is still being harvested.

Greenfeed and annual cereal silage crops yielded half to two-thirds of normal. Corn silage yields ranged from two-thirds of average with some fields in the western parts yielding close to average with varying tonnage within a field. Producers short on feed have had to secure alternative feeds such as cattails, bulrushes, straw and different grains. This has been challenging this year for many cattle producers with the higher prices of hay, straw and grain, as well as freight costs.

Late rains in the season helped pastures sustain herd grazing where some supplemental feeding had been occurring on summer pastures prior to the rains. Recent cooler temperatures have slowed new growth and herds will be moving to wintering or fall grazing sites. Dugouts are low and fall rains and significant snowfall will be required to replenish sources for next year.