By Connor Lynch
MORRISBURG — Ontario’s September heat wave broke temperature records and gave a much-needed boost to slowly maturing corn and soybeans.
Environment Canada meteorologist Peter Kimbell told Farmers Forum that the blast of heat last month was a jet stream from Arizona, effectively offering Ontario more than two weeks of Florida temperatures. Some Ontario days were hotter than the Nevada desert city of Las Vegas. Sept. 24 was the hottest day ever recorded in Ottawa. The daytime high was 31.8 C (but it felt like 39 C). The previous hottest day was 31.7 C in 1891, the year Prime Minister Sir John A. Macdonald died in office.
For cash crop and beef farmer Eleanor Renaud, who farms at Leeds County, the heat was a welcome relief from the startling chill that swept in at the beginning of September. Soybeans were so far behind at the start of September, that a killing frost “would’ve wiped out 60 per cent of the beans in Eastern Ontario. Getting this lovely nice weather has saved everybody’s bacon,” she said. But as of Sept. 25, she said, there were still plenty of green soybeans in fields. “That is scary for this time in September.”
Soybeans are making such an incredible comeback that Statistics Canada forecasts a record-breaking yield for the province at 49.3 bushels per acre.
With maturity delayed by about 20 days, Morrisburg-area cash crop farmer Arden Schneckenburger said that the September heat helped crops fill out and catch up by a week. It was still too early to say how the crops would turn out, he added.
“I think because of the stress the beans were under, yields will most likely be down. But some of those early (planted) beans will mean good yields. Yields will be all over the map,” he said.
Corn silage would likely have average yields, as the heat dried out and filled out cobs, he said.
Some Eastern Ontario farmers began harvesting soybeans on Sept. 25, almost two weeks later than last year. The first Renfrew County farmer in the field was on Sept. 26, crop farmer Larry Reaburn reported.
Dean Patterson at Edwards, south of Ottawa, began harvesting a neighbour’s field on Sept. 26 and they were hauling in 38 bu/ac. Last year, Ontario farmers managed a soybean yield, on average, of 45.9 bu/ac.
“Maybe 25 per cent of my acres look average to slightly-below average but three-quarters of my crop look fantastic,” Patterson said, adding the record September heat brought soybeans back to normal. “It’s better than I expected. We said all summer we’re going to need a fantastic September and we managed to get it.”
Eastern Ontario independent agronomist Gilles Quesnel said there is an extreme soybean yield variability, with highs of 60-plus bu/ac and lows below 20 bu/ac.