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Article in the London Free Press:
It’s not what farmers and agricultural officials expected after a cold, wet spring and parched summer across much of Southwestern Ontario’s farm belt.
Yield reports from fields that have been harvested are being called amazing.
“The yields on both corn and soybeans for the most part have just blown us away. We do not hardly understand where these yields are coming from,” Peter Johnson, crop specialist with the Ontario Agriculture Ministry, said Thursday.
Johnson said there have been many growers reporting 50 and 60 bushels an acre soybean yields.
“We would have expected a lot of 30 and 40 bushel soybeans. The yields have been just outstanding for the year that we had,” he said.
The situation has been similar for corn.
Some growers are reporting yields over 200 bushels an acre and many are talking yields of 160 to 180 bushels, Johnson said.
“We would have expected to have heard a lot of 140 bushel corn yields.”
There have been some growers hit with lower yields - 20 bushel an acre soybeans and 120 bushel an acre corn.
“But the vast majority have been more than surprised and amazed by the high yields we have been getting,” Johnson said.
The trick for farmers now is to get the remaining crops out of the field before snow arrives.
Johnson said either dry conditions are needed or freezing temperatures that will allow farmers to get back into the fields.
Harvest is further advanced north of London where it has been drier then south of the city.
Some areas north have 80% of the soybean crop off, while areas along Lake Erie have only 20% harvested.
Corn and soybeans are the two biggest crash crops in Ontario, worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
The recent wet weather is raising the tension level for farmers waiting for a break.
Jay Curtis, a St. Thomas cash crop farmer, said it is putting growers behind the eight ball.
“It rained and rained, through the prime planting season, so we were late getting crops in.”
Curtis said the regions’ summer with good heat and timely rains helped to put the crops back on schedule, but now Curtis said, “we’re getting saturated, so we’re in big trouble again.”
John Ferguson, of Ferguson’s Fancy Beans in St. Thomas, said in an average year he hopes to have beans harvested by mid-October. This year Ferguson estimates 50% of the bean crop is still in the fields, and it’s going to have to dry out for a couple of weeks before any harvesting can take place.
Southwestern Ontario’s corn crops have a better chance of getting harvested, said Ferguson, because corn can be harvested even after snowfall, “making corn a much less risky crop.”
Corn usually must be dried down to 15.5% moisture, so a wet crop can cost a farmer, a lot of money in the form of natural gas or propane to dry his crop, he said.
“To take corn from 30% moisture to 15.5% would cost about 70 cents a bushel,” said Ferguson who noted that the current price of corn is about $6 a bushel.