By Connor Lynch
BLYTH — A dry year worries you to death. A wet year starves you to death.
Western Ontario was contending with both wet and dry as of late June, but farmers facing dry weather have had the bigger problem.
In Huron County, the situation wasn’t desperate as of the last week of June but it was certainly shaping up to be, according to crop farmer Peter Heinrich at Blyth, 80 minutes north of London. Planting season was a bit late but conditions were perfect, he said. But by June 25, the winter wheat was starting to burn off, the corn was low on nitrogen without enough water to absorb it through, and even the soybeans were on the small side. His wheat probably wouldn’t make an average crop, he said, but the other crops could recover if only the skies would open.
On June 28, they did. His farm got almost an inch and a half of rain. It was just in time with heat on the way.
At Kirkton, about halfway between London and Blyth, Lauren Benoit had gotten a small reprieve. Her onion-leafed corn (when the leaves curl in as the plant tries to conserve moisture) had gotten two inches of rain over the June 23-24 weekend. “That two inches was a pretty good drink for now,” she said on June 25. As long her crop doesn’t go another five weeks without rain, it should be alright.
But it’s going to get hot, said Environment Canada climatologist David Phillips. July and August are forecast to be above-average temperatures. That means those thirsty crops are going to need even more rain than they normally would.
That heat is going to hit the critical stage for St. Thomas-area farmer Jeff Davis’ corn and soybeans. As of June 25, his corn and beans were in need of rain and his wheat was hitting its critical stage. But the rain that had come through had been spotty and largely avoided his fields. “We’re not desperate. But we could use a good rain.”
Meanwhile, some areas in the deep south, into Essex County, have had enough rain. Dresden-area crop farmer and agronomist Phil Shaw said that the standing water in his corn is looking to clear, and as long as it does so soon, it’ll be good for his crop.
Essex County farmer Brendan Byrne agreed. Farmers got rain and with heat in the forecast, Southern Ontario is expecting a good growing season, he said.