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At Mother Nature's mercy

A wheat field begins to mature west of Brandon on Richmond Avenue on Wednesday. Near Pipestone, moisture from early season rains had already wiped out crops before recent torrential downpours, winds from a suspected tornado and hail from a thunderstorm uprooted others.

BRUCE BUMSTEAD/BRANDON SUN Enlarge Image

A wheat field begins to mature west of Brandon on Richmond Avenue on Wednesday. Near Pipestone, moisture from early season rains had already wiped out crops before recent torrential downpours, winds from a suspected tornado and hail from a thunderstorm uprooted others.

It has been a summer of extremes for Prairie producers as volatile weather systems in some areas have been unforgiving on young crops.

Near Pipestone, some areas are a complete writeoff after floods from torrential downpours, winds from a suspected tornado and hail from a thunderstorm saturated, uprooted and laid down crops.

Wayne Drummond, who farms north of Lauder on the edge of the Souris River, said crops are hit and miss in the area.

"Things are looking pretty good as long as you missed last week’s storm," Drummond said. "Our biggest problem is we were hit by heavy rains earlier in the season and we lost a lot of crop that was wiped out with water."

The moisture has caused lodging in some areas as weak-stemmed crops, still in their infancy, were pounded with adverse weather causing the crop to lie flat on the ground.

Parts of Drummond’s land are still flooded out by the Souris River, which remains over its banks and across roads in some places.

"It’s becoming common practice around here where we have one year where guys can’t seed and the next year they can again," said Drummond, who used to own cattle as well, but got out of the industry after the 2011 flood.

Drainage — legal and illegal — continues to be the single biggest contributor to the whole mess. The widespread disappearance of wetlands in Manitoba and Saskatchewan means a lot more water ends up downstream a lot quicker than it used to.

"Drainage is starting to become a big factor because when we get these big rains the land can’t hold it, the water’s gone," Drummond said. "Of course we’re by the river and we’re the last one who gets it — so guess who gets it all."

According to the Manitoba Crop Report filed on July 15, much of the damage from the last storm was localized to Pipestone, Reston, Hartney and Pierson areas.

Moisture levels continue to be well above normal, and many fields in these areas are suffering from denitrification, a process where plants are starved of oxygen and deplete their nitrogen resources as a way of trying to survive.

The biggest benefactor of the extreme heat and frequent rainfall has been corn and soybeans crops. Both continue to outperform most crops, and 75-80 percent of soybean crops are in the bud and early flower stage of development.

Insect activity remains low across Westman, with Bertha armyworm monitoring seeing increased moth counts in Minnedosa, Wawanesa and Killarney areas.

» ctweed@brandonsun.com

Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition July 18, 2013

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It has been a summer of extremes for Prairie producers as volatile weather systems in some areas have been unforgiving on young crops.

Near Pipestone, some areas are a complete writeoff after floods from torrential downpours, winds from a suspected tornado and hail from a thunderstorm saturated, uprooted and laid down crops.

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It has been a summer of extremes for Prairie producers as volatile weather systems in some areas have been unforgiving on young crops.

Near Pipestone, some areas are a complete writeoff after floods from torrential downpours, winds from a suspected tornado and hail from a thunderstorm saturated, uprooted and laid down crops.

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