By Connor Lynch
DUNVEGAN — Eastern Ontario’s six-week stop-and-start slog through planting season finally wrapped up for most producers midway through last month. But some were still waiting by mid-June to plant as much as half their fields, and in East-Central Ontario, some farmers could only look to the skies, hoping the rain would stop.
By June 15, about 95 per cent of Eastern Ontario’s corn and 90 per cent of the soybeans were in the ground, said independent agronomist Gilles Quesnel. Little to none of it was planted in ideal soil conditions. It’s a huge contrast with last year, when many producers were finished planting corn and soybeans by May 22, or even 2017, when despite the rainfall and flooding much of Eastern Ontario was done planting corn by the end of May.
Dunvegan-area farmer Roger Penner, who farms near St. Isidore, wrapped up the last of his soybean and adzuki bean planting on the morning of June 13. With ominous clouds overhead and rain in the forecast for the next few days, he wasn’t alone in scrambling to squeeze in the last of his crop. Just down the road, farmer Mark Franklin was getting soybeans in.
Metcalfe-area farmer Dean Patterson finished planting on June 11, taking advantage of a hot and dry spell that didn’t last long. But he swapped out about 25 per cent of corn acreage for soybeans. He doesn’t plant corn past May 24.
Everybody’s nervous about what’s in store for this year’s crop, he said. “All the planting went into tough conditions. Who knows how it’ll turn out in the end?”
Meanwhile, in East-Central Ontario, producers were still waiting to do much of their planting by mid-June. Durham-region farmer Dale Mountjoy, who crops about 1,500 acres, said this year has been, if not the worst planting season in memory, very close to it. By June 14, he wasn’t halfway finished planting. He’d swapped some longer-season corn hybrids to shorter ones, and switched some acres to soybeans.
The interminable cold and wet was getting him down. The morning of June 14, a chill had him wearing a jacket outside. “It’s not right,” he said.
Central Ontario’s been wetter than the east, said Quesnel. But the major issue hasn’t been the amount of rainfall: It’s near-on the 30-year average in Eastern Ontario. The problem is the lack of heat means that water won’t go away. Quesnel said one grower got 10 centimetres of rain that kept him off the field for four days. Eastern Ontario’s heat units, as of June 15, were about 25 per cent lower than average. “That’s very significant.”
Having to swap to shorter-season corn means trading some yield potential for an earlier harvest, As for soybeans, OMAFRA suggests a grower can lose as much as eight per cent of yield if not planted before June 5.