by SUSAN MANN
Haldimand County egg and cash crop farmer Richard Blyleven is waiting for some land to dry before he really gets going on his corn planting.
“We still have some land that’s not fit to work. It’s still wet,” he notes. Cool temperatures are hampering the land’s ability to dry out.
So far, Blyleven has finished planting his 20 acres of spring grain. “We’re just getting at our corn.” He plans to put in 50 acres of corn and 250 acres of soybeans.
He has worked some of the ground for soybeans, but hasn’t started planting that crop yet. “I just feel it’s too cold. I don’t like to see it (the seeds) sitting in the ground in cold conditions.”
Along with being cold, the very heavy clay soil on his farm is as hard as rock. “We had a lot of rains in April and they must have pounded the ground because it’s just rock hard,” he notes.
Ben Rosser, Ontario agriculture ministry corn specialist, says corn planting across Ontario is 90 to 95 per cent completed in most areas, except for regions with heavier clay soils, such as Haldimand, Niagara, and some parts of Middlesex and Lambton counties. Essex County has had a fair bit of rain lately, so planting is behind the rest of the province there too.
The soil in those areas has been slow to dry and be “fit for planting,” he says. “Some guys have held off.”
Rosser says planting seemed to go fairly well across Ontario. Now the corn crop “needs some heat to help get it out of the ground. The forecast looks fairly favourable with sunshine and warmer temperatures.”
Corn plantings in Ontario are slated to be 2.2 million acres this year, up 4.6 per cent from the slightly more than two million acres seeded in 2015, according to the Statistics Canada planting intentions report released in March.
Omemee-area farmer Peter Peeters has finished planting his seven acres of oats and barley. (Omemee is in the Kawartha Lakes.) The crops are mixed together and used as feed for his 40-head beef cattle herd. Peeters produces mostly hay on his 201-acre farm.
Planting this year “went quite well,” Peeters says. He began during the last week of April and that’s about normal for his area.
Peeters says there weren’t any glitches during planting, however his area is currently very dry.
“We didn’t get the rains on the weekend (May 14 and 15),” he says. “We need a rain desperately now.” Along with rain, his area is in dire need of heat.
Joanna Follings, cereals specialist with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, says spring cereal planting across the province is finished.
An estimated 70,000 to 80,000 acres of spring cereals were planted and that’s about average for the province.
As for winter wheat, it was planted quite early last fall, she says. “It survived the winter quite well and is currently about five to seven days ahead of normal in some areas,” mainly in the southwestern portion of the province.
For the remainder of the province, winter wheat development is just a bit ahead of normal or in the normal range for this time of year.
“We’re quite pleased with the amount of winter wheat survival that’s out there,” she says. “The crop is looking really great and there is low disease pressure, currently.”
The cool weather this spring, so far, has kept wheat diseases “at bay,” she says. “It has also kept the wheat from growing overly-tall. Since the wheat was planted early, there were some concerns about lodging.”
There’s an estimated one million acres of winter wheat in Ontario currently.
Horst Bohner, Ontario agriculture ministry soybean specialist, says farmers got off to a nice start with planting soybeans last week until it rained in most of southwestern Ontario May 13 and 14. “A lot of places had an inch or more on Friday (May 13) and Saturday (May 14).”
Before the rains, about 25 per cent of the overall crop was seeded. However, now planting has temporarily stopped in southwestern Ontario while growers wait for their land to dry.
“By this weekend, there will be a lot of (planting) activity and by Monday (May 23) the majority of soybeans will be planted in those areas that are dry enough,” he says.
Unlike their southwestern Ontario counterparts, farmers in eastern Ontario have finished soybean planting because they’ve been “dry enough.”
May is the time to plant soybeans and “if we get them in by the 20th, we’re very happy. If it’s the 25th or a little bit later, that’s okay too,” he notes.
In its March planting intentions report, Statistics Canada says Ontario farmers are anticipated to plant 2.7 million acres of soybeans this year, down 7.8 per cent from 2015. BF