GUELPH, ON (April 24, 2014) – Emerging from a uniquely long and harsh winter, farmers are keen to get out on the land and plant their crops.
The tough winter has left some areas with damaged winter wheat crops. The southwestern region of the province is looking better than expected, but towards central Ontario farmers are unsure of the crop’s condition.
“A real benefit of winter wheat is the ability to plant it in the fall and have a head-start on the growing season in the spring,” says Henry Van Ankum, Chair of Grain Farmers of Ontario. “With the winter wheat struggling this spring, and possibly needing to be replanted, we’ve lost some of that time advantage.”
Planting of other grain crops, like corn and soybeans, is also testing the patience of farmers across Ontario. The tremendous amount of snow received in many areas this winter has resulted in excessive moisture in many fields. Until that moisture is pulled out of the surface, planting equipment will remain in the shed.
“We know we aren’t the only groups feeling some pain after such a challenging winter,” says Van Ankum. “We’re hearing that many other groups are reporting losses as well – from wildlife to pollinators.”
Certainly, one of the questions on many farmers’ minds is how the honeybee population fared through the ice, snow, and extreme cold. Over the past few weeks, as beekeepers have opened their hives and winterkill bee losses have been reported. The population loss numbers have not been released, but historically, cold spikes and long winters have proven detrimental to honeybees.
“Every spring, those of us in agriculture have to evaluate the effects of the winter,” says Van Ankum. “We are certainly glad to be through winter, but the losses and damage we are seeing this spring may create an uphill course for the 2014 season.”
Grain Farmers of Ontario
Grain Farmers of Ontario is the province’s largest commodity organization, representing Ontario’s 28,000 corn, soybean and wheat farmers. The crops they grow cover 6 million acres of farm land across the province, generate over $2.5 billion in farm gate receipts, result in over $9 billion in economic output and are responsible for over 40,000 jobs in the province.