Harvest on Hold… (again)

#YourFarmers have been working hard this fall to finish up harvest, but many acres of soybeans and corn are still left standing. Combining wet grains off of wet fields can cause a lot of issues so many farmers will wait until the grains are dryer before combining. This was challenging this fall as we saw many inches of rain with little rain free days to let the grounds and plants dry out. Then, winter came early and left a whooping 10 cm of snow in some already wet fields!

Continue reading “Harvest on Hold… (again)”

Rain

Field in East Garafraxa full of water

Rain. The word on everyone’s minds lately, but even more so for the farmers who have been unfortunate enough to receive all the rain this year. Farmers across the province struggled to plant their grains this spring, and many were optimistic for the weather to hold off long enough to give the plants a chance to grow. Many were also optimistic enough to spray liquid nitrogen fertilizer and necessary fungicides and herbicides to protect the growing plants. But after inches of rain last week, farmers are now concerned that their crops might not survive.

My family farms in East Garafraxa township, growing corn, soybeans, and wheat. After the heavy rain and storms Thursday night, we checked on the fields to see how bad the floods were. Rivers and creeks were flooding in nearby towns and communities, so we knew there was too much water in our area. Close to 4 inches fell in one night, causing the tiles and ditches to fill and flood into the fields. One field of ours alone had 18 acres under water. That’s equivalent to about 40 hockey arenas of land… under water. And that was on one farm alone. Many neighbours in our area had flooding in the fields and fast moving water carrying the plants and soil away. Today, we were able to check on the fields, and many have begun to dry up. Thankfully, water is no longer pooling on the plants! But we aren’t out of the clear yet. Over the next few weeks, many farmers will be closely monitoring their fields to see if there is any long term damage from the rains, as well as waiting on the fields to dry to begin spraying the necessary pesticides and fertilizers that haven’t been applied this spring.

April Showers Bring More Showers

Mike's wet fields in May 2017

Farmers across the province have spent the last few weeks anxiously waiting to get on the fields to begin spring planting. A lucky few were able to get onto the fields early, and they have already planted fields of corn, barley, and oats.

        The longer it takes for farmers to get back on the dry fields and plant their crops, the shorter the growing season gets. With less time to grow and develop, the crops will yield less grain at harvest time.

Before farmers can start planting, the soil needs to be warm (12°C or higher) and dry. Ideally, this happens between the end of April and the middle of May. This year, because of extremely wet weather, a lot of farmers have had to put an early stop to their #plant17 plans. After 70mm already, this weekend could bring another 75-100mm of rain across Southern Ontario, and many long term forecasts are calling for more rain next week.

What does all of this mean for farmers? Most will have to sit and wait. It’s very easy to over-compact wet soil by driving equipment on it, and wet soil is also at a much higher risk for soil-borne diseases and funguses that can kill plants before they even start to grow.

The longer it takes for farmers to get back on the dry fields and plant their crops, the shorter the growing season gets. With less time to grow and develop, the crops will yield less grain at harvest time.

What started off as a beautiful, early spring has changed into a rain soaked mess, and #plant 17 is on hold across the province.
Of course, conditions weren’t much better this time last year.

Do farmers work in the winter?

Farm in the winter

        Do farmers work in the winter? How can they work when there’s snow on the ground and most crops are harvested?

It’s hard to imagine a grain farmer working in the winter while there is snow on the fields and the tractors are safely stored away, but they do! Most farmers spend their winters planning for the next year.

Farmers meet with the seed, chemical, and fertilizer dealers to talk about products they plan to purchase and negotiate prices. They also meet with their bankers, accountants, and tractor and equipment dealers to talk about the following year, too.

Farmers also spend a lot of time on maintenance on machinery and on the farm. Spring, summer and fall get pretty busy, so any downtime is spent on fixing and upgrading machinery and buildings. If they stored grain, they might also be watching the markets, preparing to sell and ship that grain off their farm.

In the winter, farmers will also attend meetings, conferences, and trade shows put on by commodity groups, trade organizations, and agriculture product retailers that showcase new and innovative technologies. Farmers like to say that winters are for playing catch up: catching up on meetings, catching up on work, and most importantly, catching up on time with family and friends.