By Tom Collins
OTTAWA— Farmers could be forgiven for cursing up a storm as record rainfalls in many parts of Eastern Ontario put growers two weeks behind in planting.
According to Environment Canada’s historical records, Ottawa had 336.6 mm of rainfall in April and May. It was the wettest April-May combined in Ottawa’s history and broke the previous record by at least 70 mm.
This year’s combined April and May saw almost five times as much rain as the 70 mm that fell in the same two months in 2016, and more than double the five-year average (2011-2015) of 163.8 mm.
The Ottawa area wasn’t alone when it came to large amounts of rain. Many areas of Eastern Ontario saw three to seven times as much precipitation in April and May compared to last year, and some areas experienced double their average rainfall.
Cornwall saw 282.7 mm of rain in April and June. That’s four times as much as the 72 mm last year and about 100 mm more than the five-year average.
Peterborough had 282 mm fall in April and May this year, seven times more than the 40.1 mm that fell in April and May in 2016 and double the five-year average of 138.8 mm.
Not only do the wet months slow down planting, it could lead to an increase in pests. OMAFRA says cool, wet April conditions are detrimental to the natural enemies of armyworm.
“Traps this spring in Ontario and neighbouring states have captured more armyworm adults than normal and a week or two earlier than previous years,” reports OMAFRA in its Crop Talk newsletter. “This indicates that 2017 could see a large invasion of armyworm in corn, cereals and mixed forages.”