By Connor Lynch
METCALFE — Planting season was smooth sailing for most of Eastern Ontario.
Metcalfe-area farmer Dean Patterson, who farms 850 acres, was wrapping up the last of his soybeans on May 22. By this time last year he was just finishing corn.
“Last year was relaxing, I was well-rested,” he said, because frequent rains meant frequent breaks. But this year’s burst of heat, sunshine and cloudless skies meant a straight shot through planting without a break. “I’m totally tired out.”
Most Eastern Ontario farmers were pretty well done with planting by May 22, said agronomist Gilles Quesnel. Corn and soybeans need to be in the ground by mid-May before producers start losing yield, according to OMAFRA. First-planted corn started emerging with virtually no crusting as of May 22, Quesnel said. On the whole, Eastern Ontario had a very solid planting season, with field conditions just shy of excellent, he said. Farmers on the whole were a bit late getting in, though not enough to affect yields much, and May had good enough weather that farmers got caught up, Quesnel said.
Cash crop farmer Brian Burnett, planted 2,350 acres of corn and soybeans between Metcalfe and Russell, finishing on May 22. He started on May 7 and stopped only one day because of rain. “It’s been a long time since we had a year like that,” he said.
Jack Fraser had all his 500 acres of corn and almost all of his 500 acres of soybeans in the ground by May 22, after planting for almost two weeks straight. The only interruption was a half-inch of rain on the Victoria Day long weekend. Planting got started a touch late. Usually Fraser likes to get at least a bit of the seed in the ground in April, but the cool weather didn’t cooperate.
Napanee’s Max Kaiser, one of the first in the field in Eastern Ontario, was finished with corn by May 6, and his soybeans were in the ground just before midnight on May 21. Despite his early start, he had more rain delays. “The rain let me catch up on my sleep,” he said.
Peter Archer, who farms at Campbellford in Northumberland County, put 1,200 acres of corn in the ground in the first week of May, when the weather was still playing ball. Soybeans started smoothly but with the rain it’s been stop and start trying to finish them off. He figured only half the fields had been planted in his area by May 22.