By Connor Lynch
CHESTERVILLE — If April was the cruelest month, November wasn’t far behind.
Memories of 2019 might leave a bad taste in crop farmers mouths’ for years to come, as a slow spring and a sub-par summer turned into a stop-and-start harvest slog. 2019 is now synonymous with a four-letter word among some farmers.
By mid-November, corn was only about 20 per cent harvested, said independent Winchester-based agronomist Gilles Quesnel and as much as 20 per cent of the soybeans were still in the field. Rain, snow and high-moisture levels were all conspiring to keep harvest from progressing.
With soybeans still stuck in the ground so late, some might end up trapped there all winter, Quesnel said. But soybeans can’t tolerate overwintering like corn. The best-case scenario will still see at least 15 per cent yield loss across Eastern Ontario, Quesnel said.
Corn yields are below average so far, though not that far below, but still that’s “slightly better than expected,” he said.
Cash crop and dairy farmer Doug MacGregor, at Chesterville, was one of the few farmers wrapping up corn harvest last month. Yields on his 550 acres were a little below average, in the 180 bushels per acre to 200 bu/ac range, and, as the season waxed on, moisture content dropped and test weight crept up. “All things considered, I‘m fairly happy with it,” he said.
It’s not just farmers who are getting held up. Chesterville-area farmer John Cayer said congestion was starting to build at his local elevator as he took crop off on Nov. 20. “Everyone’s trying to get their corn in. Everyone wants to get done now.”
High moisture levels are slowing the dryers. Michael Aube, who runs Rutters Elevator at Chesterville, told Farmers Forum his dryers were running at about half-speed with all the wet corn coming in.
Most farmers weren’t so lucky. Down at Morrisburg, cash crop farmer Warren Schneckenburger was only about 20 per cent done his harvest by Nov. 20.
“It’ll be a crop insurance year,” he said. Yields were around 140 bu/ac, with moisture levels ranging between 25 per cent and 35 per cent. He went looking for dry corn but always came up empty. “Every time we think we’ve found it, by the time you get to the end of the field, it’s all the same.”
He only got started on harvest on Nov. 13, which is quite late. And hybrids didn’t seem to make much difference in his area. “At the end of the day, when you planted to when it froze, almost every hybrid was 300 heat units short,” he said. “Worst crop ever.
EASTERN ONTARIO: Corn harvest ho-hum, with lots still in the field
By Connor Lynch