More wet weather in forecast spells trouble for Manitoba farmers: ‘We need some sunshine’

Farmers' fields are looking like lakes in parts of Manitoba after a weekend of heavy rainfall. As Mark Neufeld reports, the wet weather is pushing back the start of the growing season.

By Mark Neufeld

After heavy rains saturated the region that was already snow covered, farmers say it could be up to a month before they are dry enough to plant crops.

And time is ticking: the window for getting seeds into the ground to achieve desired crop yields has already started.

Manitoba farmer Rauri Qually’s property in southern Manitoba looks more like a lake than farmland after the province was hit with substantial rainfall.

“We need some sunshine, and we need some heat,” said Qually, a grain and oil seed farmer.

“It will be the end of May by the time we can actually get into the field at this point.”

Qually says by this time last year he had already seeded most of his cereal crops because the snow had all melted by the third week in April.

This year his field is sitting under water as far as the eye can see.

This comes after some regions of Manitoba received more than 50 mm of precipitation over two days.

“We do need to be able to get our crops in on time and if we get into a wetter weather pattern it can certainly spell out a lot more challenges down the road,” said Qually.

The wet weather is only the latest challenge for Canadian farmers, says Qually. COVID-19 caused disruptions to the global supply chain and the war in Ukraine has driven up prices on farming inputs like equipment and fertilizer.


Qually says Ukrainian cereal crops are no longer expected to make it to global markets, and farmers here are attempting to fill the gap in global food supply.

“There definitely is an increase demand,” said Gunter Jochum, president of the Western Canadian Wheat Growers Association. “Ukraine is a very important exporter of wheat, corn, and other corps, sunflowers, and they just won’t be at the market this year with that war happening over there. It’s just devastating.”

Jochum says the heavy amounts of precipitation are a double-edged sword. Seeding will be delayed, and anything planted in late May or early June will not provide the yield farmers are hoping for.

However, the snow and rainfall will recharge river systems and streams that were extremely low after a drought year in the province, and farmer-built dugouts will be teeming with water that can be drawn from into late summer.

“So, from that aspect it’s good,” said Jochum. “It will be good for cattle farmers in the Interlake that had severe drought seasons last summer.”

Roger Houde, who lives in southern Manitoba, says normally at this time of year, there’s dust in the air from tractors driving in the fields. But this year the water stretches to the horizon. He hopes the farmers’ weather woes will soon be over, and is optimistic for good weather through the summer and fall.

“I mean there’s miles and miles of water and I can’t even imagine how many gallons that is,” said Houde.

“So we can get that crop off, because everything is pushed up a month so let’s hope mother nature brings us summer on because we need her.”

Jochum is also trying to remain optimistic but he says the weather forecast for the upcoming weekend isn’t what he was hoping for.

“The long-term forecast looks for more rain next weekend, or this coming weekend, so yeah, not ideal if you’re a farmer,” he said.

Top Stories

Top Stories

Most Watched Today