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Ontario production of both crops down despite a record wheat yield

By John Miner, The London Free Press

After smashing yield records for wheat this year, Ontario farmers don’t expect to do nearly as well with their biggest cash crops — grain corn and soybeans.

A Statistics Canada report released Tuesday predicts a substantial drop in Ontario production of both crops this fall.

Based on a survey of thousands of farmers from July 21 to Aug. 4, the federal agency is pegging Ontario’s corn crop at 7.9 million tonnes, down 11.1 per cent from the previous year when growers harvested record yields.

Both crops loom large in Southwestern Ontario, one of the nation’s richest farm belts.

Dry weather conditions in many growing areas tempered expectations, Statistics Canada said.

Ontario, Canada’s largest soybean producer with most of the production concentrated in the province’s southwest, is anticipating a 15 per cent drop in the harvest to 3.1 million tonnes. The average yield is expected to fall from 45.5 bushels per acres in 2015 to 41.6 bushels per acre this year.

Peter Johnson, a London area-based agronomist with Real Agriculture, said he expects the final numbers for the wheat crop will actually be higher than the record of 89.2 bushels an acre that Statistics Canada is anticipating.

Based on reports and data he’s seen, Johnson said he expects the average yield will come in at 96 bushels per acre.

“From a yield perspective, it was an unbelievable wheat crop,” he said.

The downside for wheat growers is the price. With grain stocks rising around the world, and record production south of the border in the United States, prices have slumped.

“Worldwide, we are awash in wheat and the only thing that can help an Ontario farmer is a low dollar. As the Canadian dollar drops against the U.S. currency, it helps our price,” Johnson said.

Corn prices are also down, with the U.S. expected to harvest another record crop. The bright price spot for farmers is soybeans.

“They are OK from a price perspective. They are not awesome, but they are good,” Johnson said.

Among other projections in the Statistics report released Tuesday:

• Canadian farmers anticipate producing 17 million tonnes of canola in 2016, down 1.2 per cent from 2015.

• Lentil production is expected to hit a record, with farmers estimating output will increase 36.3 per cent from a year earlier to 3.2 million tonnes.

• Barley production is expected to rise 5.8 per cent to 8.7 million tonnes.

• Oat production is expected to fall 11.9 per cent to three million tonnes

jminer@postmedia.com

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