COLIN CORNEAU/BRANDON SUN
Joel Brugger, a grain farmer from Rivers, waits to bring his truck into the Viterra terminal near Forrest on Monday afternoon. It was Brugger’s third trip of the day to the facility, which had lineups throughout the day.
With yield numbers continuing to jump off the chart, it has been a disheartening two weeks for some Westman producers as weather conditions have slowed combines to a crawl.
Grain is unloaded at the Viterra terminal near Forrest on Monday. (COLIN CORNEAU/BRANDON SUN)
AJ Armstrong, of Armstrong Seeds near Boissevain, has been idle for a week and estimates in the last two weeks he has harvested under 200 acres.
"We’ve had about three times our normal precipitation," Armstrong said. "It’s tough because you get into harvest mode and that’s all you want to do, then this rain forces you to sit around and wait."
According to the Manitoba Crop Report approximately
10-50 mm of rain fell on parts of the southwest region last week.
Scattered light frosts have halted soybean growth in the area.
Armstrong isn’t too concerned with light frost due to how mature the crops are, but his wish list does include a dry spell until the end of harvest, estimating he’s still one-third from being complete.
"What scares us if it stays wet and cool then nothing is going to dry," he said.
While the fields are dry enough to get machinery on, much of the wheat, which is considered dry at 14 per cent moisture, has been stuck in limbo, anywhere from 16 to 18 per cent due to the sporadic rains.
Moisture content and temperature are the main factors that contribute to how long a cereal can be safely stored.
"If it’s not dry it can heat in the bin or it can spoil just sitting," Armstrong said. "Elevators can only take a certain quanity of tough grain because they have to mix it with dry grain for safe storage."
The farm has been running aeration fans all fall to ensure it dries, but a gentle nudge from Mother Nature would be appreciated, Armstrong said.
Near Strathclair, farmers were slowed but a nasty storm that included two hailstorms on Sept. 18.
While the storm stalled the harvest, it was a welcome respite for many elevators which were bursting at the seams with grain.
"We had to source additional storage spots because there was so much grain that came to market," Parrish and Heimbecker customer service manager Wendy McDonald said.
The company rented an elevator in Shoal Lake and some unused bins from a producer, adding 6,000 tons of storage to bring its total to 28,000 tons.
Late last week, train cars moved some gain out of the elevator. The cars were needed and welcome, according to McDonald, but at times they have also been unreliable as rail companies, cars and employees are in high demand.
The storm is also expected to bring the quality of wheat down slightly.
"It’s frustrating for the producers because there are record yields and they just want to get it off and in the bins and this weather has definitely slowed them down," McDonald said.
Like many parts of the province, Strathclair is seeing record yields for several crops.
"My job is to check the fields the whole way along and we knew that it was good, but I was caught off guard by how good they are," she said "It seems the weather was perfect for everything."
One plot of wheat from the United States that was grown under the identity-preserved program had yields of more than 100 bushels/acre.
The variety isn’t licensed in Manitoba and does have less protein, but McDonald was still shocked when it reached triple digits.
"I never thought I’d see yields like that in this area."
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition October 1, 2013