By Tom Collins
TRENTON — The moderate drought to start the summer will not have much impact on yields, say area agronomists.
TCO agronomist Larry Hutchinson, in Trenton, said the dry weather will keep corn and soybeans from being bumper crops, but average yields are likely if it starts raining on a regular basis. The critical time for rain is when corn tassels and soybeans flower, which started mid-July.
“We need an inch of rain every week for the rest of the summer,” said Hutchinson. “A lot of fields are stressed.”
Trenton saw 89.6 mm of rain in the driest May 1 to July 13 in the last 16 years (all years of data available on the Weather Network website). Last year, the Trenton area saw 210.9 mm of precipitation. The 15-year average is 183.6 mm.
Independent agronomist Gilles Quesnel said the issue for most of Eastern Ontario was not growth, but emergence. Dry weather caused emergence issues for about 10 to 20 per cent of the corn and soybean crop. What did emerge is doing fine and has no issues, he said.
“The total impact on yield in Eastern Ontario will be minor,” he said. “Corn and soybeans are in pretty good shape if the population is in the field.”
Much of the province is reporting a much drier-than-normal season. Most of Western Ontario and Niagara are in a drought. Two photographs are making the rounds on Twitter. One shows a woman standing in a waist-high crop field in the Niagara region on July 10, 2015. One year later, barely anything is growing in the same field.
Meanwhile, some areas are reporting record rains. Thunder Bay had a record rainfall in June with 213 mm, much higher than the 86 mm average. There are pictures of people swimming in their backyards due to all of the rain.
Lloyd Crowe, who runs Reynolds Farms in Picton with his uncle Larry Reynolds, said land in his area “is cooked.” A Prince Edward County conservation authority was asking residents last month not to wash their cars or water their lawns to conserve water.
“On poorer land, the corn is curled right up,” Crowe said. “Even on some of the better land, it’s starting to show. Every Sunday I ask the pastor for a prayer for rain. I don’t know if you can ask too many times, but there’s the Bible story about the persistent person and the judge, and finally the judge gives in.”