By Connor Lynch
WINCHESTER — Crop farmers don’t always get Christmas off, let alone December. But they get December off this year.
Most Eastern Ontario farms wrapped up corn and soybean harvest by the end of November, said Winchester-based independent agronomist Gilles Quesnel. Soybeans were a bit delayed after much of the region saw rainfall through September, but a blast of heat and clear weather in October allowed farmers to charge ahead.
Overall, soybean yields were probably about 10 per cent above average, he said. Corn yields were down overall by about 15 per cent but just about everything else worked in the producers’ favour. The crop got a price bump and much of the crop was coming off at between 16 and 19 per cent moisture, Quesnel said. And since corn dried in the field rather than in the dryer, producers kept bushel weight. The crop was good quality by-and-large, with mould issues practically nonexistent, he said.
Corn’s two biggest drawbacks were lack of rain and poor emergence, Quesnel said, with heavier soils struggling to get crop out of the ground and sandy soils struggling to retain moisture.
Russell-area farmer Michel Dignard said that producers in his area were largely happy with their yields of corn and soybeans. The weather was the best part of harvest: corn harvest can often mean slogging through snow, wind and cold, but not this year.
Jasper-area crop and beef farmer Eleanor Renaud said harvest was wrapping up in her neck of the woods about four weeks earlier than last year, with the crop turning off well and with good prices to boot.
With little rainfall in Prince Edward County, a surprise price hike was a welcome boost for Picton-area farmer Lloyd Crowe. “It never rained here all summer.”
The smaller harvest had one advantage. “It doesn’t require nearly as much trucking when it’s half a crop,” Crowe said. “(But) even though we have half a crop, prices are better. It helps. Of course, you’re supposed to have already booked corn and beans by now, according to the marketers.”
Marketers perennially argue that farmers should have sold most of their crop at targeted price points long before harvest. But many say that farmers should wait for their yield before they contract that last 25 per cent of crop. Those who had crop to sell at harvest time could have hit a jackpot. At North Gower Grains, soybeans hit their highest price in at least five year at CDN $14.785/bu in November while corn hit a two-year high at CDN $5.71/bu.