By Connor Lynch
GUELPH — Rain is an uncertain beast in Western Ontario, leaving farmers in some areas crying out for a cloud-covered sky and others lamenting flooded fields and drowned crops.
But there’s still a good chance of reaping a decent corn and soybean harvest this year.
OMAFRA corn specialist Ben Rosser at Guelph told Farmers Forum that as of Aug. 1, most of the corn was tasseling in Western Ontario, and that some of the early variability of the season was starting to even out. Most of the corn crop was planted the third week of May when a planting window opened up across Western Ontario, he said.
OMAFRA soybean specialist Horst Bohner said that soybeans were shaping up well heading into August. Fields were flowering, and there wasn’t significant enough weed pressure anywhere to affect yields. Some areas were still in need of rain, whereas if others didn’t dry out they might start to face white mould pressure, he said.
In a normal year, “August makes beans.” This year, September will be responsible for filling beans because they’re behind, Bohner said. Sunshine and heat are going to be the critical factors for growth, and unless you were rained out, “it’s still possible to have incredible yields,” Bohner said.
Western Ontario is punctuated irregularly with fantastic or terrible conditions, he said. “I spoke to a guy who believes he has the best soybean crop he’s ever had in his life. And I also know guys who won’t have a crop.”
Cash crop farmer Rob Foster at Ilgerton in Middlesex County said that what his corn and soybeans need are rain and heat. “We’re not suffering yet, but since about the middle of June, we’ve been just getting enough (rain) to get by,” he said. His area has also been cool on average. “We need average to above average temperatures from here on out to finish the crop.”
Meanwhile, Perth County cash crop and dairy farmer Dave Johnston has been hoping that things will dry out. A wet spring was the warmup for a pounding rain in late June that dropped five-and-a-half inches of rain on his farm in three hours.
His corn and soybeans went in a bit late, delayed by the wetness. Since then he’s had flooding, weeds and occasionally compaction issues. After spraying, he had more weeds popping up as rain germinated more seeds.
Although his farm could handle the water thanks to tile drainage, not all area farmers were so lucky. “There are areas around here, where you’ll have a 50-acre field and five acres in it where nothing’s growing,” Johnston said.
Senior Agris Co-op agronomist Dale Cowan said that west of London, rainfall was spotty and intense, and the crops are highly variable.