© Can Stock Photo / Baloncici

Local farmers urged to be patient

Farmers across Southwestern Ontario are wishing and hoping for a stretch of dry weather as planting season gets pushed back.

Some farmers have been able to get out in their fields, while others are still waiting.

Louis Roesch, Zone 1 director for the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA), said there are a couple of crops that need to get in the ground as soon as possible.

“Sugar beets, it’s important that they get in early, they need the full season to get more tonnage and more sugar in the beets themselves,” said Roesch. “Tomatoes, they have to get those in the ground, peppers also, for processing.”

But Roesch said it’s not time to panic just yet.

“As it gets warmer, the ground dries out quicker too. There’s still time. Depending on the crop, sugar beets, those type of crops, tomatoes have to go in now. There’s different things that’s a must, those are the ones that would be affected the most. Corn and beans, there’s still adequate time,” said Roesch.

Fields that consist of heavy clay appear to be among the hardest hit.

“Because it’s still cold yet too, the ground has to warm up to dry out,” said Roesch. “So you get more in the Essex area, they’re gonna be behind if it doesn’t get going. They’re two to three weeks away yet in a lot of that ground to be able to plant on the heavy clay.”

When it comes to winter wheat, Roesch said that it’s also been affected by the rain.

“There doesn’t seem to be any in-betweens,” said Roesch. “There’s some fields, which is the smaller percentage, look great, and there’s other fields, they’re useless. There’s no mediocre fields, they’re either good or they’re bad.”

Roesch added that with some crops, like corn, farmers can switch to earlier varieties. But if everyone has to switch, there won’t be enough seed.

“Every year’s a challenge, there’s never two years the same, we’ll get through somehow,” said Roesch. “Patience is important right now, to wait until the ground is fit. When you get to the middle of June that becomes a different issue. But now, be patient.”