By Connor Lynch
TILBURY — Harvest of 2017 was a long, tough slog, with some farmers taking corn off the ground right up until Christmas. Unexpectedly good crops meant that some elevators filled up when they weren’t expecting to, forcing some corn to stay in the field. A wet fall kept some farmers out of the field right up until the rain turned into snow, forcing them to stew over the winter and wait.
For some farmers, it was a gamble that paid off, even if it was one they’d just as soon avoid.
Kent County farmer Gus Terneoy, at Tilbury, had about 40 acres of corn get trapped in the field by the wet fall. But a cold snap in January froze the ground firm, and he got nearly all of it out of the field. A small amount, less than an acre, was left over and was close to a road and ended up getting crunched by a snow-plow instead of a combine.
The January corn came off significantly drier than it had last fall. Nevertheless, Terneoy has no intentions of doing it again unless he has to. “I will never plan to do that.” It’s too risky, and if the corn stays in the field, Terneoy has to stay in harvest mode, with his equipment ready to go at a moment’s notice, all winter.
In Essex County, farmer Brendan Byrne breathed a sigh in relief after getting the last of his corn off in mid-February. His crop overall, for both fall and his unexpected winter/spring harvest, was around average. The late-harvested crop turned out about the same, except it had dried down significantly, saving Byrne some costs at the drier.
Meanwhile, Thamesville-area farmer Harry Lawson still had 85 acres of corn waiting on nicer weather as of May 1. The field is clay, so it never froze, keeping Lawson out of the field. With a cool wet spring, Lawson wasn’t yet able to get into the field to plant or harvest any corn, but he said the field looks quite well. “Other than I’m feeding a lot of deer, no issues.”