Endless rainfall leads farmers to ‘sit tight’ until harvest time

Kelsey Smith
Ruslan Matthews
Nation Valley News

NATION VALLEY — This year has seen far too many soggy days, and though the ducks love it, farmers are having what could be the worst and wettest years in decades.

“In my lifetime I’ve never seen it this bad,” remarked Stan Vanden Bosch of Vanden Bosch Elevators in Chesterville.

According to OMAFRA Cropping Systems Specialist Scott Banks, recent weather trends in the region have left some crops devastated by rain and floods due to a reported a 200 percent increase in long-term average of precipitation this season.

Heavy rainfall and floods delayed seeding earlier this spring, leaving the emerging crops in a mixed state. Some infield crops have been damaged by recent flooding, according to Banks, while hay fields have been a challenge to cut this year, leaving much of the forage crop either ruined or in poor quality because of the delayed first cut.

Vanden Bosch said he drove around the country-side yesterday morning with some friends to get an overall look at just how bad the crops were. Explaining that different places around the immediate area saw various amounts of rainfall on Monday, he estimated Chesterville received three inches of rain, while Winchester Springs and Winchester were doused with a respective four and five inches.

The Chesterville native said the extra rain was definitely not needed. “We were saturated before Monday,” he said, noting the excess moisture will only make things worse.

Vanden Bosch confirmed that the “rainfall is already ahead of the amounts in 1972.”

Of course, back in 1972, the farming community didn’t have the advantage of tile drainage as it does now. “You can see the tile line and things seem to be growing better there,” Vanden Bosch mentioned. But while tile drainage is a help, it’s just not enough to keep up with this year’s seemingly relentless regular deluges.

Harmony Corners dairy farmer Ian Porteous said he’s heard elders say the large accumulation of rain in 1972 fell mainly during the month of August. But so far in 2017, heavy precipitation has just been the norm since spring. It’s rained more days than it’s been sunny, he observed, noting that on the fields, “a lot of spots have drowned out.”

Some farmers have “replanted wet holes, just to see them drowned out again,” Porteous reported.

“There will be crops that won’t yield at all this year,” Vanden Bosch predicted, because of the “severe stress” wrought by all the extra moisture.

Suggesting 80 percent of corn might yet be salvaged this year, Vanden Bosch was less optimistic about soybeans. A mere “50 percent of of soybeans” will be harvested this year “if we’re lucky,” he said, adding it’s too late and too wet to replant that crop. “At this point there’s not a lot we can do. We just have to sit tight and see what happens.”

Added the longtime cash-cropper: “There really are no options at this point. It’s too early for crop insurance we need to wait until harvest time. Then assess the damage. Crops need to be harvested first and then insurance will cover the yield loss.”

While most crop insurance payouts are expected to be made near harvest time, there have been a few instances of payouts already for “unseeded acreage benefits” to farmers who have been unable to plant certain crops this season due to the excessive wet weather, according to Banks.

 


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