Southern Manitoba canola “wiped out” by weekend frost, reseeding needed

UPDATED – June 1, 2015 – 1330 CST – Justin Jenner is holding out hope, but he will probably have to re-seed nearly 1,000 acres of canola.

Jenner, who runs a 4,500 acre grain and cattle operation near Minnedosa, Man., said a hard frost acutely damaged his canola fields.

Jenner plans to make a decision on re-seeding soon, but he wasn’t feeling optimistic.

“It’s looking like most of the (fields) will have to be re-seeded,” said Jenner, a Keystone Agricultural Producers vice-president.

“We had a couple of fields that got flea beetles real bad. The frost kind of finished them off…. Between those two pressures, we’re going to have to reseed those (fields).”

The late May frost hit a wide geography of Manitoba early May 30.

Elmer Kaskiw, Manitoba Agriculture crop production adviser in Minnedosa, said it dropped to -1 C at midnight and remained below zero for most of the night.

“We got down to -3 C and -4 C was fairly general,” he said. “In the valleys it was in the -5 to -7 C range.”

Kaskiw said the frost was unusual because it was a black frost.

Typically, dew forms when temperatures creep toward zero. But there was little or no moisture around.

“We’ve never had this type of black frost…. Saturday morning by nine or 10 o’clock, the plants were turning black…. The dry, black frost, it really smoked the canola quite badly.”

As of June 1, many canola fields in the region around Minnedosa had turned brown.

“What we’re seeing this morning, the top of the plants are browned right off. There’s not much for a growing point,” Kaskiw said.

Early reports suggest the frost hit areas west of Winnipeg, around Elm Creek and Elie. Fields north and west of Brandon, were also affected.

Kaskiw said it’s difficult to estimate the number of affected acres, but there was frost across a large chunk of western Manitoba.

“Anything north of Brandon, between Minnedosa and Neepawa and then right through to the Saskatchewan border and up to Roblin and Swan River,” Kaskiw said.

“Basically the Yellowhead route and Number One (highway) north.”

Angela Brackenreed, Canola Council of Canada agronomist, told Reuters that the damage was worst in Western Manitoba, noting many fields will require re-seeding.

While Jenner is waiting to make his decision, many of his neighbours are moving ahead with re-seeding. Farmers around Minnedosa were hauling canola seed Sunday or were in the field with seeding equipment.

Jenner said Manitoba crop insurance pays 25 percent of a producer’s coverage for frost damage, which will help offset some of the re-seeding cost.

He said there should be a sufficient amount of canola seed around.

“The retailers I talked to on Saturday seemed confident they could get enough seed.”

Kaskiw said farmers who seeded canola after May 20 should hold off before re-seeding. Plants that were just poking out of the ground may have survived the black frost.

“Those are fields I’m telling guys, you know what, if we get some of this rain that is forecast… those fields should improve.”


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