Southwestern Ontario saw record soybean yields and decent corn yields
Wayne Shipley unloads seed corn into a semi-trailer at a field north of London two weeks ago. Farmers generally saw an average to above-average corn harvest, but yields varied from 40 to 250 bushels an acre, says agronomist. Mike Hensen/The London Free Press
Soybeans were the star this year as Ontario’s harvest finished amid ideal conditions.
Despite a distressingly dry start, many parts of Southwestern Ontario saw record soybean yields and decent corn yields, said Peter Johnson, an agronomist with the Real Agriculture website.
With warm, dry fall weather in the London area, Johnson said about 90 per cent of corn and virtually all soybeans have been harvested.
“It’s been a great harvest,” he said. “The weather has been pleasant and we’re not fighting mud.”
The best average soybean harvest across Ontario is about 47 bushels an acre, but Johnson said he expects that record will tumble this year with many farmers harvesting more than 60 bushels an acre.
Soybean and corn crops suffered under dry conditions early in the summer, but mid-August rains came in time to rescue the soybean crop. Better crop varieties and farming practices also helped, he said.
“It’s timely rainfall coupled with good genetics and good agronomy,” said Johnson.
Soybeans aphids are usually a threat in dry years, but there were almost none this year.
With soybeans fetching about $12 a bushel, he said farmers should make money.
Exceptions are the Niagara Peninsula, parts of Eastern Ontario and pockets of Huron and Bruce counties, which saw severe drought and very poor corn and soybean harvests.
Johnson said the corn crop has been much more uneven. Most farmers saw an average to above-average harvest, but yields varied anywhere from 40 to 250 bushels an acre.
Most farmers had expected below-average yields due to the dry start, but August rains filled up the kernels even though cobs were small.
He said some grain growers north of London saw a record yield of Ontario’s three main crops: winter wheat, soybeans and corn.
Johnson said next year’s winter wheat crop is off to a good start with about 850,000 to 900,000 acres planted.
Johnson said that’s a surprisingly large planting because wheat prices are low. But he said it will be good for productivity because wheat is key in crop rotation.
After fears raised by a very dry start to the season, Johnson said most farmer did well.
“There’s a saying: ‘Dry weather will scare you to death. Wet weather will starve you to death,’ ” he said. “For most growers, that adage held true.”