Drought threatens Ontario soybeans

A prolonged dry spell is threatening the soybean crop in parts of Ontario and rain is needed soon to salvage the growing season.

The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture Food and Rural Affairs reported this morning that crops around Simcoe, south of Brantford, have been hardest hit by the drought.

“Only about 20 percent of soybean stands in the Niagara and Haldimand regions have an acceptable plant stand due to dry conditions,” the OMAFRA field crop team said in an online report.

Horst Bohner, OMAFRA soybean specialist, said crops in that region desperately need rain in the next 10 days.

“It’s pretty widespread down there…. It’s a significant number of counties that are affected,” he said. “It depends on the individual field. Some have a decent plant stand … but a lot of crop is in pretty tough shape in that part of the world.”

Environment Canada data from Hamilton, north of Simcoe, indicates the area has received less than half the normal rainfall this spring. On average, about 165 millimetres of rain falls on Hamilton in May in June.

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This year, between May 1 and June 27, Hamilton has received 78 millimetres of rain.

The lack of moisture is having an impact as many soybean fields look thin and patchy.

“Agricorp (the provincial crop insurer) has received about 1,400 calls of damaged crops with 1,000 of those being poor soybean stands,” OMAFRA said in its report. “Most of these damage reports are from dry soil conditions.”

Bohner said corn in the region is also struggling with the dry conditions.

“In some of those sands (sandy soil) the corn is turning brown,” he said. “It’s pretty serious.”

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Bohner said the situation is comparable to 2012, when a heat wave and lack of rain scorched crops across Ontario.

But crops bounced back in 2012 and the same thing may happen this year.

“We had quite a dry year in 2012…. It turned out, overall, to be a pretty nice year in terms of yield,” he said. “For the vast majority of the province, there is still time for a nice recovery, but it’s those pockets that didn’t establish a plant stand that (are) the biggest concern right now.”

If those areas, particularly the Niagara and Haldimand regions, don’t receive rain by early July, the soybeans and other crops may not pull through.

Contact robert.arnason@producer.com

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