Poor field conditions keep combines idle
By Diego Flammini
The recent rain is an indication that Mother Nature is still in control, Ontario cash crop producers say.
“She’s still in charge,” Fred Helwig, a soybean and wheat producer from Grey County, told Farms.com. “If it wasn’t raining profusely, we would’ve started harvesting this week.”
Like several other producers, Helwig’s soybean fields are ready for harvest, but poor field conditions have prevented him from combining.
The 69-year-old farmer has experienced a variety of growing seasons over his career, but this one stands out because of drastic changes.
“In all my years I’ve never seen anything as frustrating as this,” he said. “We were droughted out like you wouldn’t believe in the early part of the season. But then it started to rain in August, so now I have two crops in the same field.
“I have the original (soybean) crop that should’ve been harvested weeks ago, plus patches of soybeans that looked like I planted them the first week of August,” he said. “And if I were to take those green beans to the elevator, I’d probably get penalized for them.”
The delayed harvest is also impacting his winter wheat.
“I’ve missed the optimal window” for planting, he said. “All I can do now is be ready because, at some point, the weather is going to turn. And when it does, there’s going to be a lot of sleepless nights because we’ll be harvesting and planting through the night to make up for lost time.”
Doug Duffin, a cash crop grower from Middlesex County, is also standing by waiting for the weather to change.
“I’ve only been able to harvest a few soybean (acres) before the rain came in and slowed us down,” he said. “We need a few days of sun with some good winds, so we can dry the crop down.”
At some point, the crop must come off the field, Duffin said. Even if that means farmers incur higher operating costs.
“If the weather doesn’t improve and we have to harvest, it will cost us more to dry the soybeans,” he said. “In time, there could also be yield loss and quality loss.”
Like Duffin and Helwig, Christine Francis, a cash cropper from Perth County, is affected by the wet weather.
“We were getting ready to start soybean harvest, but things have certainly slowed down,” she told Farms.com. “We probably need a week of sunny weather before we can get back into the field.”