By Connor Lynch
CHESTERVILLE — Soybean harvest isn’t the disaster that some feared but there wasn’t a lot of cheering across Eastern Ontario as beans started to fill bins last month.
Dave Chambers, a cash cropper and custom operator at Chesterville, got started on soybeans on Oct. 9, about two weeks later than normal. But he was also about two weeks late putting beans in the ground.
A frost that kissed Eastern Ontario in early October helped even out fields and speed up harvest, though not by much. A killing frost usually hits Eastern Ontario at about mid-October.
Yields weren’t anything to write home about. Some fields were as low as 35 bushels/acre and a few as high as 60 bu/ac. He was expecting to average around 40 to 45 bu/ac.
The five-year average is 46 bu/ac across Eastern Ontario. Statistics Canada was the first out of the gate predicting an Ontario average of 43.6 bu/ac, soon to be followed by Farms.com predicting 44 bu/ac for Eastern Ontario soybeans, and Great Lakes Grain with the highest projection of 44.5 bu/ac in Eastern Ontario.
But it’s well down from last year’s Ontario record high of 51.4 bu/ac, according to Statistics Canada.
Most growers are probably in the same boat, and on average, will get 40 to 45 bu/ac, independent Winchester agronomist Gilles Quesnel said. But he added that there is a lot of yield variability — some fields as high as 60 bu/ac, and some as low as a jaw-dropping 8 bu/ac on the very worst fields.
The tough planting season left farmers with expectations a lot lower than average. “Just about every grower is pleasantly surprised,” he said.
Kevin Wilson, who farms and runs a grain elevator at Vankleek Hill, said that beans were looking pretty good coming off the field through October, with good quality and high protein. Yields were looking slightly above average, and moisture was hovering right around the 13 per cent target.
Some growers in the area, himself included, had particular trouble with the weather. A hailstorm tore through the area and Wilson lost about 60 acres of soybeans and 40 acres of corn. Some of his growers lost hundreds of acres, he said.
Renfrew County cash crop farmer Ian McGregor got started on his soybean harvest on Oct. 10, a pretty normal time for his farm. Yields weren’t great, averaging around 37 bu/ac, well below his farm average of 47 bu/ac. Quality was great, however, with very little dockage and low moisture.
News was a little better near Roseneath in Northumberland County. Cash crop farmer Reuben DeJong finished harvesting by mid-October. Yields were in the low 40s and high 30s. “For the season we had, stuff looks pretty good,” he said.
EASTERN ONTARIO: Many soybean growers avoid disaster some feared
By Connor Lynch