Crop swing expected for Southern Ontario

Record corn and soybean harvests are forecasted in some parts of southern Ontario after a dramatic turnaround in growing conditions through August.

Parts of southern Ontario are forecasting record corn and soybean harvests. #OntAg #Harvest18

Earlier this summer, spotty and isolated precipitation – often in the same field, and certainly in the same township – had producers expecting mostly average crops.

But then came August, with its combination of above-average temperatures, humidity and evenly spread rainfall. In the Kitchener area for example, temperatures dipped below the average for just two days. They were two degrees Celsius higher than average.

That’s a great one-two punch for producing yield – and that’s exactly what’s happened, in fields throughout southern and southwestern Ontario.

Bumper crop on the horizon?

“It looks like a bumper crop,” says John Nooyen, a producer from Chatham, Ont. “I’ve never seen soybeans and corn like this before. It could be the biggest year ever for us.”

Even though he planted corn late because of unfavourable spring conditions, he’s expecting yields 10 per cent higher than last year, which were already an impressive 227 bushels per acre.

And he believes some of his soybean fields could yield around 70 bushels per acre.

“It’s awesome,” he says.

Henk Pastink of Henria Holsteins near Conn, Ont., says his farm’s corn crop recovered well from mild heat stress in June.

“We were pretty lucky, given the hit and miss showers in this area,” he says. “The corn crop now looks better than we’ve seen in the last few years, with all the heat and humidity and rain that eventually came on a regular basis. It pulled the corn out of drought stress. Big cobs, big yields.” 

Hay crop is tops

Pastink is further enthused about his hay crop, which was likewise challenged by spotty rain at the start of summer.

“Our second cut was significantly lower yielding, as can be expected from the lack of rain,” he says. “At the time, we merged a 100-acre farm into eight windrows because of the lack of volume.”

But the crop improved later in July and August. This week, he’s finishing his third cut, which has ended up being a good crop. 

”We averted a disaster”

Dale Cowan, senior agronomist with AGRIS and Wanstead co-ops, says many other producers are likewise experiencing upbeat results.

“We averted a disaster,” he says. “Back in June it was dry, then followed by intense rain, up to six inches in a single event, in isolated locations. But in August, things changed and now everyone has received the rain they need, along with the hot weather.”

Disease pressure that might normally be associated with wet weather was staved off. Aphids and white mould were present in some fields, but by the time they arrived, plants had already matured.

As a result, yield was unaffected. Cowan predicts record averages of 180 to 185 bushels per acre for corn, about 10-15 bushels per acre higher than the historic average. Soybeans could average out in the low 50 bushels per acre range and beat the last record of 48 bushels per acre, set in 2012.

“The yield is set, nothing can change that,” says Cowan. “It’s just a matter of getting good harvest weather.”

Bottom line

Weather in parts of Ontario concerned some producers earlier this summer, but growing conditions are turning out to be golden for some of Ontario’s cash crops.

Article by: Owen Roberts