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Ontario farmers dependent on weather

Andrea Stockton, staff writer

June 13, 2011 — A soggy spring has severely affected Ontario farmers and some crops will go unseeded this year.

Excessive rain this spring leaves fields swampy and saturated
Excessive rain this spring leaves fields swampy and saturated

Forecasters predicted above normal precipitation for parts of Ontario this spring. And to several farmer's dismay, soaking rains have indeed dominated the region. Some places saw double the average rainfall amounts throughout the month of May.

The wet and cool spring stalled the planting season across southern Ontario,

“We are so weather dependent,” said Caledon grain farmer Randy McLeod. “We work extremely long hours when we're able to go and if Mother Nature says it's going to rain, we're at a standstill.” McLeod adds that the planting season this year was certainly a challenge.

Farmers watch live weather radar to determine where storms are and the chances of being hit. And unfortunately, the frequent storms and soggy conditions have left several farm fields unseeded.

Farmers unable to spend time in their fields
Farmers unable to spend time in their fields

“If we compare this to last year, by this time I think we were probably close to 100 percent complete for corn planting,” recalls Todd Austin, Marketing Manager for Grain Farmers of Ontario. “The trick is to grow a crop that maximizes your profit potential. With the way the weather has gone, some of those opportunities aren't presenting themselves this year.“

Another Caledon grain farmer, Gord Armstrong said he is definitely feeling the pinch from this year's wet spring.

“I've got about one percent of my crop planted, I've got five acres of corn planted. Normally I would have 400 acres planted by three weeks ago,” says Armstrong. “It is too late for me to plant corn, so I'm switching all of my acres over to soy beans because I can plant them a little later.”

Temperatures are expected to climb across southern Ontario this week, and the stretch of warm and dry weather is exactly what growers have been waiting for. Experts say the sun helps to preserve flavour and adds a sweetness to the fruit and vegetable.

For a closer look at what the weather will be like in your area, head to the Ontario Cities Index.

The 2011 Summer Outlook has also been released.

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