By Connor Lynch
ESSEX — Farmers in Ontario’s deep south normally get to enjoy an early start to planting. Not this year. Rain has saturated the clay soils in Essex, Kent and Niagara, slowing up planting by as much as a month.
The best case scenario in Essex County saw only 50 per cent of corn acres planted by May 27, according to economist Matthew Pot. Essex farmer Brendan Byrne started planting corn and soybeans on May 28. Normally he’d like to be getting the crop in the ground by the end of April or early May, but the wet weather just wouldn’t cooperate. “We’d be a day away from drying out and get more rain,” he said.
Despite the long delay, Byrne is not concerned about yields. A blast of heat that hit Western Ontario in the last week of May is a big boon for growers, and Essex has a long growing season, to boot. The temperature on May 28 hit a high of 41 C with the humidity, he said.
That kind of heat is rough on humans but good for crops. OMAFRA’s soybean expert Horst Bohner said that the heatwave swamping the south is catching crops up on development. Soybeans started to emerge within days of planting and are largely in good shape, Bohner said. Outside of Kent, Essex and Niagara, soybeans are doing quite well, went into the ground in a good window, and, as of May 29, had a solid start to the season, he said.
Ditto for the corn crop, said OMAFRA corn expert Ben Rosser. Sporadic rains slowed planting for farmers on heavy soils, but lighter soils were mostly planted by May 29, he said. Farmers aren’t too antsy about planting dates, he said. Last year was slow, and yields turned out to be exceptional. “Obviously, planting in the last week of May isn’t ideal, but things can still work out fine.”