Andrea Stockton, staff writer
July 18, 2011 — A wet spring, followed by a dry start to summer has Ontario farmers concerned about their crop.
The weather plays a critical role in the planting season. And whether there's rain or sun, too much of anything can become a challenge.
“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.”
Soaking rains this spring left farm fields saturated and several crops went completely unseeded. A lot of areas got two and half times the normal rainfall through May, which is the critical time frame for planting.
While farmers were looking to the skies for help, a recent onset of hot and dry conditions are bringing their own set of problems.
“About the end of June, it's like Mother Nature has turned off the tap and we're getting no rainfall whatsoever,” says Peter Johnson with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA). “If we have a wet spring we tend to push our planting back and what we really need if we have a wet spring is more rainfall to keep the crops growing. So this lack of rainfall is really not what we want in this point in time.”
Johnson adds that rainfall on a weekly basis throughout the summer is ideal.
“When we have a wet start, the crops don't develop a good root system and without a good root system it's really essential for continued rainfall to keep the crop growing.”
Rosemarie Haegens, a local Ontario farmer says the crops are thirsty and things like corn are especially suffering.
“The corn probably took it the worst. Because of the later planting with having to reduce down your heat units, you're right away looking at a yield reduction...So there are a lot of uneven crops on our corn.”
Despite the setbacks and lack of moisture however, Haegens says farmers continue to battle on.
“I think we're all diehards and we're not willing to just walk away.”