Usually by mid-September, farmers across Ontario will have already begun harvesting the soybean crop; however, this year’s soybean harvest is at least two weeks behind in most parts of Ontario, and as much as a month behind in others.
There are a few reasons why this year’s crop is so far behind schedule, but like a lot of farming concerns, they’re all weather-related. Because of the long winter and deep frost, spring planting couldn’t begin until June in most parts of the province—about a month’s delay. In addition to the late start, crops haven’t seen as much warmth as they typically need, since it has been a very cool summer (and in some places, very wet). Like all crops, soybeans need sun, warmth, and time to develop.
Soybeans are typically planted in mid-May, when the soil temperature is at around 14-16°C, and there is little chance of frost after the seedling emerges from the soil. Soybeans usually take 95-105 days to grow from seed to maturity: as a single soybean plant matures it will produce as many as 80 fuzzy pods full of 2-4 beans each. The plant is ready to be harvested when it dries and turns completely brown.
Soybean farmers will be looking for another few weeks of warm weather this fall. Farmers have been growing soybeans in Ontario since 1942, and since then it has become the province’s largest field crop in terms of dollar value to producers.
You can learn more about growing soybeans in Ontario and soybean products at Grain Farmers of Ontario or by visiting the Growing Connections trailer, which is at the International Plowing Match in Simcoe County this week.