By Connor Lynch
GUELPH — Ontario’s unplanted acreage is more than triple the five-year average, according to the latest numbers from Agricorp.
This year presented tremendous challenges when it came to getting the crop in, particularly in Eastern Ontario. Constant rainfall delayed the Eastern Ontario hay harvest, kept farmers from spraying crops, and, in many cases, prevented farmers from even getting a crop in the ground. The rainfall this year has solidly smashed 30-year averages across Eastern Ontario. By late August, Ottawa had received 1,008 mm of rain in 2017, and was only 100 mm away from breaking a rainfall record for the entire year.
August and September are critical months for corn and soybeans. The hope is that if conditions are drier and hotter, the crops can recover. Already, however, many farmers have had to let acreage go unplanted in numbers well above average.
By Aug. 22, Ontario farmers had already been paid $21 million by Agricorp for unplanted crops, replanted crops, and hay that couldn’t get harvested.
There were 54,470 acres in Ontario that benefited from Agricorp’s Unseeded Acreage Benefit. That’s more than triple the five-year average from 2012-2016.
Agricorp paid 537 farmers to the tune of $8.4 million, more than triple the $2.5 million paid to 180 farmers on average each year over the last five years.
Central Ontario in particular got slammed. Four of the five counties that had the most unplanted acres were in Central Ontario and Hastings County was the worst hit county in Ontario. Farmers there received 46 of the 537 total payments.
Reseeding was a different story. This year was actually better than the five-year average. There were 112,932 acres that qualified for the reseeding benefits, four per cent less than the five-year average of 118,128. This year saw 1,521 payments go out, 313 fewer than the five-year average.
Prescott-Russell had the most reseeding claims in Eastern Ontario, but the situation was worse in five other counties in Western Ontario. Prescott-Russell replanted four times its annual average for re-seeding.
Hay, which grew fantastically with the rain, was often difficult to harvest in wet conditions and qualified for coverage as well. There were 223 payments that went out, and farmers received $2.7 million in compensation.