By Connor Lynch
NAPANEE — Napanee’s Max Kaiser was once again one of the first farmers in the field this year planting corn. He planted 10 acres on April 23 and 50 acres on April 24.
Rain later that week was expected to keep him out of the field until the week of May 1.
That’s when most producers in Eastern Ontario were to start planting, said agronomist Gilles Quesnel. As of April 24, “there’s nobody (planting corn or soybeans).” A very small amount of field activity has happened, he said, mostly with fertilizer.
The spring has been a double-whammy for producers. Cold and wet weather has soaked frigid temperatures deep into the soil. Snow slowly melting into soil keeps soil temperatures down and slows drying, Quesnel said. It was a bit of a late start for Kaiser. Last year he was planting as of April 17.
Apart from a few forages and cereal crops, Eastern Ontario’s fields were left alone to warm and dry up, said Crysler-based customer operator Marcel LaFrance, who crops about 20,000 acres across Eastern Ontario. This year has been slow to warm but expected planting dates are far from unusual: “The rule of thumb is, our biggest week is the week of May 5.”
A couple of farmers were working on forages in late April. Glengarry County cash crop farmer Keith Wells was in the field preparing land for spring wheat on April 23. Marty Derks, a cash crop farmer at Chesterville planted 160 acres of wheat on April 24. Glen Canham, at Avonmore, planted alfalfa on April 24.
The sudden warm break on the April 21 weekend was what producers needed, but as of April 23, producers were still reporting soil temperatures below 5 C, and they need to be 10 C or above for a few days for the soil to be ready.