By Tom Collins
PAIN COURT — Corn planting is right on schedule for most farmers, despite cold, wet soil that kept them from planting in late April and early May.
Matt Pinsonneault, at Pain Court near Chatham-Kent, was one of the few farmers to plant corn in April. He planted about 150 of his 500 corn acres from April 23 to 25.
“We probably got a third done and we’ve been rained out or it’s been too cold since,” he said, adding on May 2 that he was progressing a little behind his normal schedule. “You get a couple of decent days that barely get soil temperatures up high enough and then it rains again or it cools off again. It’s been a slow start.”
Dan Foster, an agronomist with Pride Seeds for Essex, Kent, Lambton and Middlesex counties, said about 2 per cent of corn in his area was planted as of May 2, mostly in Chatham-Kent on loamier sands.
He figured the rain on the April 30-May 1 weekend put planting on hold for five days.
“If we don’t get going by May 10, then we’ll be behind, but I’d say we’re pretty well on with normal,” he said.
Oxford County farmer Amy Matheson said her farm was caught in an awkward battle of “do we or don’t we” at the end of April.
“The ground was fit, but the ground wasn’t warm enough, so the struggle was should we go, or do we wait,” she said. “There was a rain coming, and we thought, well if that’s a cold rain, because the temperature was low at night, we don’t want potential damage to the seed, so we decided to wait.”
Matheson’s farm did get 200 acres of alfalfa planted in April, and hoped to start planting corn by the May 7 weekend.
Ken Laing, at Sparta near St. Thomas, might have been the earliest Ontario farmer in the field this year, planting 0.2 acres of oats and barley with a no-till drill on March 12.
Laing said he was doing a trial plot to see what would happen to early-planted crops into winterkilled radish. Things were looking positive by May 2.
“It was the first time I’ve ever done it, but it looks promising,” said the horticulture farmer. “They’ve come up quite a bit. I’m sure I’ll do it again. I like the whole idea of planting into winterkill cover crop without tillage. If this doesn’t work to my satisfaction, I’ll figure out how to do it right.”