by SUSAN MANN
There’s some silver lining around the clouds for waterlogged Essex County soybean growers as dry weather and heat are on tap for the next possibly seven days, says an Environment Canada spokesman.
Senior climatologist Dave Phillips says the good news on the horizon for Essex
County is no rainfall in the forecast for the next five days with temperatures hitting 27 to 30 C. “Even the rain forecast for next Tuesday or Wednesday is just 30 per cent. I don’t even carry an umbrella for 30 per cent.”
Phillips says “it’s quite possible we could see seven days in a row without any precipitation and wall-to-wall sunshine.”
Rain has hammered Essex County for May and June, and this past month has also had cooler than normal temperatures. The average temperature for June was 19.5 C, one degree below the normal for the month of 20.5 C. May was warmer than normal with temperatures averaging 16.8 C compared to the normal of 15 C.
But the big story has been the rainfall. In June, the Windsor weather station recorded 199.2 millimetres of rain, more than twice as much as the normal rainfall amount of 86 mm. Phillips says the Windsor weather station is fairly representative of the Essex County area.
June’s rainfall total is the most for the county for that month since recordkeeping began in the 1940s. The previous record for June was 170 mm set in 2008.
“It (June’s rainfall total) beat the record by more than an inch of rain,” he notes. “It’s quite significant.”
Essex’s wet June came on the heels of a rain-soaked May with 151.4 mm of precipitation. But that total didn’t beat the record of 194.8 millimetres set in 1943. The average for the month is about 80 mm.
For May and June combined, there was 350.6 mm of rain with most of that (273.4 mm) falling within 32 days from the last weekend of May to the end of June.
“That is the wettest, by far, of May and June together,” Phillips says. The previous record for the two spring months combined was 290.4 mm set in 1968.
The rainfall combined with the cooler-than-normal temperatures in Essex County meant there wasn’t much evaporation of the rain ponding on fields. “The water was just standing there on the field and rotting seed or not allowing machinery on the field,” Phillips says. “It has obviously been a big, huge challenge for growers down in that area.”
Brendan Byrne, Grain Farmers of Ontario director for District 1 (Essex County), says the cool, wet weather has hampered soybean planting in the county.
Byrne, who farms around the town of Essex, says there wasn’t much soybean planting activity through the entire month of June. Normally soybean planting in Essex is completed by the second week of June.
Agricorp has taken the rare step of extending the soybean-planting deadline by seven days to July 7 for Essex County farmers. Normally the planting deadline is June 30. This year, growers also have until July 10 to report their final planted acres.
Spokesperson Cathy Darling says they’re aware of the continuous wet conditions in Essex County “and we’re working with customers in the area.”
Byrne, 39 years old, says this the first planting deadline extension “that I know of in our area. This is also the first time that we’ve had unplanted acres at this time of the year.”
He estimates 40 per cent of the county’s soybean acreage is unplanted. Of the planted acres “there is still a fair amount that needs to be evaluated for replanting.”
Some areas of the county are starting to dry out but it’s debatable if in certain areas there’s time to get into fields and plant or replant soybeans even with the extension from Agricorp, he says.
Essex County has 1,740 farms with 1,000 (65.2 per cent) being grains and oilseeds operations, according to a Windsor-Essex Regional Chamber of Commerce 2014 report. BF