WHEATLEY — Grain farmers can’t always count on having Christmas off as harvest weather decides: It giveth and taketh away. This year it gaveth.
Most farmers had finished harvest by the end of last month, with the crop coming off in good time, yielding well, with good-quality and excellent prices to boot.
Farmer Ken Dawson, who crops between Wheatley and Tilbury, better known as “the middle of nowhere” in Chatham-Kent, wrapped up his harvest by mid-November. Yields for corn and soybeans were both “really good,” with low moisture.
The only real frustration was DON. The toxic fungus-byproduct isn’t wreaking havoc on the corn this year like it did in 2018 but it’s been a frustration, he said. He himself hadn’t had any loads of corn rejected or payments docked but testing numbers were all over the place.
At Tillsonburg, harvest was wrapped up at the end of November, said cash cropper Ann Vermeersch. Overall yields looked about average said the Pioneer seed salesperson, based on the 40-50 farmers she chats with. Test weights were good with low DON levels and good-quality corn. Soybeans came out similarly well, with good yields and little white mould. The only hiccup was a windstorm that blew through in mid-November and knocked over some corn. But it was a trade-off more than a loss: farmers who harvested before the storm were taking off significantly wetter corn, versus harvesting a bit less of the drier stuff after the storm.
Farther north it was a similar story. Middlesex County crop farmer Rob Foster had slightly-below average corn yields but a smooth harvest with good-quality and no DON. “Absolutely no complaints here,” he said.
It was Goderich-area farmer Bruce Trebles’ earliest-harvest ever and the corn and soybeans both came off above average, with 223 bu/ac corn and 71 bu/ac soybeans. He still had about half his crop to sell and was looking at higher harvest prices. “(I) wish I didn’t book so much so soon,” he said, but “that’s playing blackjack at Vegas.”
Agronomist Dale Cowan said producers, for the most part, were happy with harvest. Prices were just icing on the cake, with corn hitting $5.50/bushel and soybeans as high as $14/bushel last month. “Even new-crop wheat is over $7.50 a bushel,” he said.
Chatham-Kent old crop corn prices hit a yearly high of $5.64/bu while soybeans hit $15.0175/bu, the highest price since 2013.