By Tom Collins
NAPANEE — A winter with a lot of freeze-thaw cycles damaged much of the winter wheat crop in Eastern Ontario.
According to OMAFRA, there were about 900,000 acres of winter wheat planted last year, but only about 40,000 acres east of Northumberland.
Napanee cash crop and chicken farmer Eric Kaiser says about 50 per cent of his 350 winter wheat acres have gaps where the wheat didn’t survive. He will plant barley into those gaps and the wheat and barley combination will be used for chicken feed. He will combine around those barley/wheat combinations to fill his contracts.
Extremely cold weather around Jan. 20 froze the ground hard as the ground was saturated from December rains. A few days later, rain turned snow to slush — which doesn’t flow off his tile-drained land — and smothered the plants. “Up until the 27th of January, we expected it was in good shape. Then it all went to hell,” he said.
Lindsay farmer Joe Hickson estimated about 75-85 per cent of his winter wheat survived the year, compared to a five-year survival rate average of around 90 per cent.
OMAFRA cereals specialist Joanna Follings said the winter wheat crop across Ontario is extremely variable this year.