Farmers facing harvest challenges due to rain

The rain this year has proved to be both beneficial and a real pain to farmers.

While the cereal grain crops have been abundant because of the wet weather, farmers have been struggling to get them off the fields with rain hitting the area regularly. Over the past few weeks, only the past weekend offered several days in a row with no rain.

“With the frequency of the rain we’re having, it’s difficult to get it cut down,” said Greg Hannam, of Woodrill Farms, near Guelph. Hannam is a co-owner of the company that plants about 2,000 acres each year in corn, wheat, and soybeans.

“I would imagine that everybody’s facing the same challenge,” Hannam said. Farmers can lose crops or their value if it remains too wet for too long.

“The yield has been really good, but we’ve seen more mildew in wheat than usual,” he said. “We have to watch it carefully. If it starts to sprout, the quality goes down.”

He noted that in other years the harvest could start as early as mid July, but this year, it came in August.

Hannam said the difficulty has been in picking the right fields to harvest at the right time, because, as he pointed out, the rain has been very scattered.

“It can be raining two roads over – and where you are there is no rain,” he said.

He added that by Friday after­noon, two of his fields had been rained on, but a third had the weather holding so the harvest could continue.

In northern Wellington County, the same situation was playing out.

Dale Connell, of Connell Seeds, said the winter wheat harvest began on Aug. 1 and usually takes three days. This year, it took 15.

He said the scattered showers cause people to “scout out which side of the farm to start work on” each day.

Connell grows 600 acres of cereal grain, 600 of soybeans, and another 300 of corn, and he said the crops have been mainly good, but the corn is a little behind because the temperatures have been lower this summer.

But getting to the crops in wet fields is a problem.

“We’ve had to start and stop a few times. It’s just been that kind of weather,” he said, adding that even though the sun eventually breaks through, that does not solve all the problems.

“You need a day of drying,” he noted.

Connell said in the north, too, “There’s been mildew around – a few cases – not a lot of it.”

He said the winter wheat crop was a good one. “We’re just getting to barley and it’s yielded well.”

He also noted the good is mixed in with the difficult when it comes to farming.

He spoke with a professor at the University of Guelph and said that man’s study helped determine which strains of seed are the most resistant in times of tough weather.

Connell said, “It’s a great way to see which varieties perform under disease conditions.”

He noted that the university professor has said which varieties of seed “not to carry on with,” based on their performance this summer.