By Connor Lynch
GLENCOE — Western Ontario saw one of the worst months of May that anyone can remember as farmers struggled under an Irish drought: It only rained every other day.
As of May 26, according to a planting poll by ag economist Matthew Pot, only about 40 per cent of corn and 24 per cent of soybeans were in the ground. Typically, farmers start planting corn in late April or early May, and soybeans tend to hit the field by mid-May.
Agronomist Peter Johnson said it’s been a largely slow and very spotty season. “I can’t describe it any other way.” Some farmers, as of May 24, were mostly done corn and 40 per cent finished with soybeans. Some were not. “Lots haven’t turned a wheel,” he said.
The lighter and sandier soils common to Norfolk County, Brant County, Oxford County, and Huron County were moving much better, he said. The heavy clays, common in Essex County and Lambton County, were struggling to get dry. Perth County had a strange situation: Producers no-tilling on heavy clay were making progress, with the top inch and a half dry enough to punch soybeans into, he said.
Switching hybrids, especially corn, has been the talk of the season unless you farmed in Essex.
Growers planting aggressively long-season beans were looking at backing off by June 1. OMAFRA soybean expert Horst Bohner said it’s been a tough year. “Certainly the most challenging year in living memory for some of us.”
But Perth County farmer and seed dealer Matt Drummond, who himself was only a quarter done corn and not yet started on soybeans by May 28, said there was talk in late May of growers switching soybeans for corn. Planting delays make that a riskier choice, but the price is the key, he said. “If you’re looking at $10.50 soybeans and $5 corn, I’d rather do $5 corn.”
By May 24, Middlesex County farmer Dave McEachren hadn’t gotten into the field at all. Normally he’d be finished with corn and soybeans across his 2,300 acres at Glencoe.
With a lack of heat through April and May, he wasn’t much concerned about yield loss on either crop. They wouldn’t have been growing well anyway, he said. “Optimism is knowing we haven’t missed a lot of heat.”