Too late to save crops, farmers say

Heading into the last weekend of summer, mild or wet weather won’t make a difference to farmers who’ve already been tormented by drought.

“Rain in September is not going to change what’s out there,” said Don Kenny of Blondehead Farm in Stittsville.

“I think our corn crop is going to be 40% below normal.”

Kenny looks at several poorly pollinated cobs – less than half its normal size – then changes his estimate to 50%.

“I’ve farmed all my life in Eastern Ontario. I’m on a century farm and I’ve never seen it as dry as this year,” said Kenny.

Dry heat has crippled growers across the province, with more than 7,000 damage reports being filed to crop insurance agency Agricorp by mid-August.

In Ottawa, June saw 68.9 mm of rainfall, followed by a paltry 16.6 mm in July, then 92.6 mm in August.

“From June 1 or so, that’s when things got really, really dry,” said Environment Canada meterologist Etienne Gregoire.

“Really, it was July that was the killer.”

Some growers are choosing to harvest their damaged grain corn as silage to feed their livestock or to sell as feed to a livestock producer, said Agricorp spokeswoman Stephanie Charest.

“Now is the time that they’re making the decision,” she said.

The yield potential for beans, though, is looking more promising.

“Beans are made in August so right here, we got an inch of rain around the first week of August, which kind of helped the soybeans,” said Kenny.

“We’re going to be a little below average on the soybean crop, but I’m not able to put a figure on how much,” he said.

In Eastern Ontario, Renfrew growers have had it the worst, said Casselman farmer Rejean Leclerc, who saw it firsthand on Wednesday.

Coming home, “I’m amazed at what I see at my farm. I’m lucky, I guess,” said Leclerc.

Moving forward, Gregoire is predicting a toasty fall for the region.

Warm weather has been a boon to outdoor activities such as golf, boating, cycling, etc. and not necessarily good news for museums and indoor attractions, said Ottawa Tourism spokeswoman Jantine Van Kregten.

“But on the other hand, we’ve had some extremely hot days this summer where staying inside at a museum would have been a relief, so it cuts both ways,” she said.

kelly.roche@sunmedia.ca

@ottawasunkroche

http://www.ottawasun.com/2012/08/30/too-late-to-save-crops-farmers-say

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