Seed World

Seeding is Way Behind on the Prairies

Thanks to wet weather in Manitoba, farmers there are behind on seeding their 2022 crops, according to the province.

Provincial seeding progress sits at 40% completion, behind the five-year average of 91% for Week 21, according to the province’s crop report for May 31. Progress remains highly variable within each region, and even from farm to farm, depending on localized rainfall and soil conditions.

Wet and slowly drying soils have presented numerous problems to growers, with many instances of tractors, seeders, and sprayers getting stuck, often in unexpected places, the report notes. Farm operators are forced to work very long hours, or overnight for 24 hour periods in an effort to seed crops while soil and weather conditions permit, it goes on to say.

“Larger farms tend to be slightly further ahead in planting progress than smaller operators. Poor condition gravel and dirt roads reduced timely field access in many regions, forcing growers to find alternate routes to fields, or travel at much slower speeds than normal. Weather and soil conditions have led to shifting acreage plans, or order-of-operations changes.”

The weather woes continued to build this week after the province was pounded with heavy rain. Manitoba made headlines in April when southern Manitoba was hit with a double whammy of rain and snow late in the month, with some parts of the province receiving well over 50 mm of precipitation. The weekend prior, a storm system brought as much as 80 mm of precipitation to some parts of the province.

“Last year, we already had our first trial in the ground right now. This will be a completely different year. That said, our agronomist in Saskatoon thinks that they’ll be out in the field later this week and our agronomist in Edmonton is thinking that they’ll be putting peas in the ground next week. It really depends where you are and what your moisture conditions are,” Kevin McCallum of DL Seeds said in late April.

Other provinces are faring better.

According to the Alberta crop report from last week, there is now 73 per cent of the provincial crop planted which is slightly behind the five and 10-year averages. This is up from 49 per cent from the previous week.

Farmers in the north east region were able to make the most seeding progress, followed by the peace and north west. The report noted compared to the five-year averages, seeding is the most behind in the Peace area due to the cold and wet weather experienced at the start of the season.

Precipitation over the past week was highly variable with not much moisture provided to the dry regions across the province, the report said. Most areas in the southern portion of Alberta received less than 10 mm of moisture with some receiving less than 5 mm. In the Peace region, most areas stayed dry allowing seeding to progress, following an exceptionally wet start to spring.

“Growing season precipitation to date was less than 40 mm in most parts of the south, central and north east regions of the province,” the report said. “More rain and warmer temperatures are needed for these areas, which hopefully will occur in June, which is on average the wettest month of the year.”

—with files from Ashley Robinson