Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Southwestern Ontario Farmers Rush to Plant Crops after Soggy Spring Delays Work

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Southwestern Ontario Farmers Rush to Plant Crops after Soggy Spring Delays Work

Article excerpt

Southwestern Ontario farmers rush to plant crops

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Brendan Byrne has been rushing all week to get corn, soy beans and wheat into the soil on his farm in southwestern Ontario.

The Essex County grain farmer is weeks behind in his planting schedule due to this year's soggy and cool spring. A recent stretch of warm weather now has him scrambling to get his crops in the ground before it's too late for them to grow fully through the season.

"It's been pretty relentless," said Byrne. "Every time we've had a chance of rain called for, we've pretty much gotten it, and because the ground hadn't dried out, you'd get even a small rain and it would look like there were puddles everywhere and ponded water. It's been tough."

Byrne, who is also the vice-chair of the Grain Farmers of Ontario, said other growers in the province's southwest are in the same situation. Ordinarily, all crops would be planted by the first week of June but the wet weather has brought significant delays, he said.

The 43-year-old said Agricorp, a company that provides farmers with crop insurance, gave him an extension until July 5 to get his beans in the ground, but even after three days of work, only about a quarter of his crops were planted. Agricorp said it was extending planting deadlines for various crops this year, including bell and banana peppers, canola, corn, green peas and onions.

If the weather holds out -- as Environment Canada predicts it will through Monday -- Byrne said he expects plenty of planting in the coming week, but even strong sunshine can have its downsides this late in the game.

"When you go from a lot of wet, cool weather and then all of a sudden we're getting really, really hot weather right now, there's potential for the ground to crust up and get hard really quickly," he said. "That's what's happening right now. …

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