CHATHAM — Southwestern Ontario’s soybean crop looked good and bountiful coming off the field this fall, though white mould arising from this season’s moist, lush conditions tempered yields.
In one of the best regions for cash crops, Chatham-Kent cash cropper Emily Charbonneau reported an average yield for her farm in the 65 bu/ac range with all soybeans harvested at her farm by the second week of October. “Nothing that really excited us,” Charbonneau said of the numbers. “I think the rains this year did end up hurting us,” she added. “We had a bit of white mould in some of our fields, and certain varieties underperformed.”
But in other areas, 65 bu/ac would be awesome. The five-year Ontario average yield is 48 bu/ac and last year’s Ontario average yield was also 48 bu/ac.
Charbonneau said that she had expected some of her fields to do better than they did, and “certainly no records” were set. Fields with their second consecutive bean crop actually produced some of the farm’s higher yields, “which surprised us a little bit this year,” she observed. “And the clay ground seemed to do better than our loam.”
Waterloo Region cash cropper Jeff Hunsburger said that white mould was a bigger factor in his area than ever before, though his soybean yields were a little above average, ranging from slightly above to just slightly below 60 bu/ac.
For the first time ever, because of this season’s moist, lush conditions, Hunsburger applied a fungicide targeting white mould in anticipation of the potential problem. A second application might have helped more, he said, with the benefit of hindsight.
“So that’s something to think about more in the future now,” he added.
Like Charbonneau, Hunsberger said this year’s conditions produced surprises in terms of the performance by soil type. Areas of his farm with sandier soils “yielded better than our better ground this year,” he said. Thinner vegetation in those fields dried down better and avoided the build up of moisture that affected the soybeans flourishing in richer soil, he surmised. The result was a “tinge” of white mould in those better fields, which effectively capped their yields this year.
His dairy farmer neighbour saw a little extra white mould because manure application prompted the crop to produce even thicker vegetation. While the neighbour’s yields were still solid, the fungus nonetheless impeded the crop’s potential output, according to
Hunsberger. “When you went into the field, seeing how heavy the canopy was, you expected a yield that was absolutely phenomenal, and it wasn’t.”
Perth County cash cropper Matt Drummond said yields were “respectable” — or average to slightly above average. Drummond, who also sells Pioneer seeds, said some of his customers got their best-ever soybean yields.
White mould was more of an issue this year, he agreed. “If you had a variety that was more susceptible to mould, there definitely was an infection in the crop.”
In Hanover, grower and beef producer Wally Schaus reported that after harvesting more than 400 acres his soybean yields ranged from a low of 61 bu/ac to a high just shy of 70 bu/ac. One 40-acre field had some white mould present, though “not severe,” he said.
Another of the Schaus family farms lost a few bushels per acre because of hail.
Overall, he was pleased — and also surprised by the performance of sandy soil. One of the Schaus farms features light, sandy soil, which he expected to produce no more than 55 bu/ac. “But we got 63 bu/ac off that sandtrap, so that was excellent in my books.”