THEIR worst enemy turned out to be their best ally for some Manitoba farmers this year.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 3/12/2009 (4152 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

THEIR worst enemy turned out to be their best ally for some Manitoba farmers this year.

Manitoba producers harvested record amounts of canola and soybeans this fall, according to Statistics Canada's final field-crop report of the year, issued Thursday. And the weather was a big reason for that, according to one industry official.

Keystone Agriculture Producers president Ian Wishart said August's unseasonably cool weather kept canola crops in flowering longer than usual.

"That's what gave us the extra yields," he said.

And record-warm temperatures in November gave soybean farmers the extra time they needed to harvest their crops, which were late in maturing because of the predominantly cool weather during the spring, summer and early fall, he said.

"Had we not had that wonderful weather in November, I'd say a good percentage of that crop would never have been harvested."

As usual, weather also played a role in the national crop production totals.

While it wasn't the record bumper crop Prairie farmers harvested last year, the 2009 crop was better than expected, according to a Saskatoon-based commodity analyst.

Larry Weber of Weber Commodities Ltd. said the 2009 crop exceeded expectations given the late start to spring seeding, abnormally cool, wet conditions during the growing season and generally poor weather during fall.

"Once (producers) got into their fields, everyone was surprised," he said.

StatsCan said Prairie farmers produced smaller amounts of the major crops, including barley, oats, canola, spring wheat, durum and field peas compared with 2008.

The StatsCan figures show Manitoba farmers harvested 2.8 million tonnes of canola this year, which was a 9.8 per cent improvement over the previous record high of 2.6 million set just a year ago.

Two other contributing factors to the record-high production levels were the number of acres of canola harvested -- almost 3.2 million -- and the record yield of 39.5 bushels per acre.

Soybean production, meanwhile, soared by 32.6 per cent to 242,200 tonnes, thanks to a 45.5 per cent jump in the number of acres of the crop that were harvested. Yields, however, declined by nine per cent to 29.5 bushels per acre.

The StatsCan numbers are based on a survey of 3,881 Manitoba farmers that was conducted between Oct. 23 and Nov. 9.

murray.mcneill@freepress.mb.ca

-- with files from Canwest News Service