The amount of precipitation in Manitoba skyrocketed this month compared to last, leaving some farmers with brighter pastures and renewed hope, while others say the moisture is too late.
"Everything was brown, brown, brown, but now it's like a different world out here," said Tom Johnson, a cattle farmer in the Rural Municipality of St. Laurent. "Everything's green. The grass is growing a little bit... We can hang on a little longer."
Winnipeg alone received 128.4 mm of rain in August as of Saturday morning, according to Environment Canada data. Already, the province's capital has seen over 15 times the amount of rain it did in July. Last month, just 8.5 mm fell.
Johnson had considered selling some of his 120 cows — as many producers already have amid the summer's drought — but newly green pastures have left his cattle fed and his worries momentarily eased.
"I was calling it a million dollar rain the other day because it saves a lot of people," Johnson said.
However, the farmer's two wells are still dry. His field doesn't have any sitting water; everything has soaked into the ground. Johnson is hoping for a "good old-fashioned winter" with average snowfall and spring runoff.
"If we don't get it next year, it could be worse than this year," he said. "You might see the rest of the (cattle farmers) that are hanging on selling off everything."
Bill Campbell, the president of Keystone Agricultural Producers, is now looking for clearer weather to continue harvest. The rain was good for forages and replenishing moisture in the soil, but it was needed much earlier for cereal and forage crops, he said.
"For the most part, the rain has come too late," Campbell said. "There may be limited benefits for some of the later season crops... but some of them have even suffered damage that they will not recover from."
So far, the rain this August has not been the most recorded for the month in Manitoba. In August of 1985, Winnipeg saw 218 mm, according to data from Environment Canada.
"For most of the farming community, I don't think they would consider it a wet August yet," Campbell said. "It was a significant amount of rain, (but) because we were so dry, it disappeared fairly easily."
He said the wet weather has been good for people's spirits — after a parched July, it's nice to know rain will fall.
Campbell's family has farmed in Minto, Man. for a collective 140 years. He said 2021’s extremes have been difficult to navigate.
"It's not unique, but it is one of the most challenging years that I've encountered," he said.
The drought this summer led to wildfires blazing throughout Manitoba. In July, over 150 burned at the same time.
Russell Loewen, a livestock and vegetable farmer in Howden, Man., said Friday's rain left puddles on his land — the first in a while.
"Most of my crops now probably have enough (rain) to finish off their lifecycle," he said.
Loewen added the groundwater could still use a top up, and more moisture will be necessary for next year.
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