EASTERN ONTARIO ó†The recent drought that Eastern Ontario has faced has been tough on crops such as corn and soybeans. However, one positive that has emerged is how cereal crops look thus far.
Dwight Foster, from North Gower Grains, says that the barley and wheat crops look fabulous. "Since the spring was so early this year, many farmers got a head start and planted early, like on Easter weekend. That led to the spring crop probably being the best crop in Eastern Ontario."
Anthony Vanmunsteren, has 750 acres of cash crops with his farm, Breton Farms Inc. in Navan. He too has noticed good things from his own cereal grains. "My wheat actually looks pretty good, it doesnít seem to be affected at all. Overall, my wheat yield will be very good."
However, it seems that is where the good news on crops ends and what is left is more uncertainty.
Hay has been hit particularly hard. Vanmunsteren has seen it in his own crops but did try something to help out: irrigation.
After his second cut, Vanmunsteren irrigated some of his fields using converted manure spraying equipment and the results, he said, were amazing. "The fields that we irrigated are now about 20 inches high as opposed to the fields that we didnít that are only about a foot high. It certainly was effective, but you have to factor in the costs of water and fuel and it just becomes too much."
The hay that he did not water, was not very good, not only in height but also in colour. "It just didnít get the boost that was needed."
When it comes to soybeans, both Vanmunsteren and Foster have noticed that they have been affected, but less than corn. "I have seen a lot of fields that have been quite affected and some that havenít. It really depends on the area," said Foster. "But if things continue, then it is only a matter of time before they are really affected."
"I can see our soybean production being down 20 to 30 per cent," said Vanmunsteren. "Again we did irrigate some after the first haylage cut, and in just two days it grew by about six inches and had a good green color. But in other fields, it is short with a few pods and still needs moisture."
Corn is the big crop that is being affected. It is still early to determine what the final yield will look like, but both men agree it doesnít look good. "My crops so far are short. Silage is at eight feet and it looks like that is the maximum it will get. Not all stocks have cobs on them and, like soybeans, it needs moisture," explained Vanmunsteren.
"Some of it is not worth combining," said Foster. "But it depends on the area it could be normal in some areas. If weíre fortunate, and we get more rain, it might not be affected too much, but silage will be down. "
However, Vanmunsteren is not as optimistic. "So far corn doesnít look good. I would not be surprised if it was down 30, 40 or even 50 percent from the norm."
Some grain corn has already been taken off as silage, a true sign of those affected by the drought. "Farmers are harvesting now because it is going backwards. It is not normal to be harvesting now, so those who are, are doing it because of the drought."
With this being one of the driest season in recent years, the only thing that can turn the tide of recent trend is rain and lots of it.