'Year of extremes' ends up essentially average for farmers
There are plenty of weather phenomena that can pose problems for farmers.
Heavy rains make it difficult to grow crops properly. So do long periods of hot, dry weather. And few things are worse than an unexpected frost after planting has started.
So what happens when all of the above happen in the same season?
To hear people in Ontario’s agricultural sector tell it, all of those weather patterns added up to a fairly average year.
Mark Wales from the Elgin Federation of Agriculture says the “year of extremes” in weather is coming to an end just in time for harvest season.
“It looks like we have a good run of weather for the rest of the month,” he said Tuesday, in an interview from Canada’s Outdoor Farm Show.
“The thinking is that a lot of corn will come in around 150 bushels. Soybean crops look pretty good, except for some white mould where there’s been too much rain.”
In eastern parts of Ontario, Wales said, record soybean yields are possible.
For consumers who only notice agricultural price fluctuations when they result in big changes to supermarket bills, analysts expect little to complain about this fall.
“The price isn’t going to go up on a box of Corn Flakes or a loaf of bread,” said Don Kabbes of Great Lakes Grain.
Just as with the weather, it seems economic factors on farmers’ livelihoods have essentially seen the good and bad cancel each other out.
While many American farmers have seen high yields of corn and soybeans, causing prices to drop, the falling Canadian dollar means farmers on this side of the border are seeing similar prices as they did in 2014.
On the other hand, the lower dollar also means farmers’ expenses might be increasing.
“If you want to buy new equipment, most of that is imported,” Wales said.
“A lot of stuff has gotten 10 to 20 per cent more expensive.”
Vegetable crops have been a little more erratic, with Wales estimating that cucumber yields have ranged from 40 per cent of a typical year’s harvest to 150 per cent.
Tomato crops have been adversely affected by blight, but peppers are now coming out of the ground in good numbers.
“We’re looking at a great crop there,” Wales said.
With more than 700 vendors spread across a 100-acre site in Woodstock, Canada’s Outdoor Farm Show is the largest farm show in the country.
It runs through Thursday.