Rainy weather holds up the planting season for Ontario farmers

Wet weather this spring has prevented farmers in Ontario from getting into their fields, and many still don’t have anything planted.

‘We’re about 24 days behind our typical start date,’ says one field crop manager

A field cultivator breaks up the ground on a farm near Ripley, Ont. A wet spring has pushed back planing time for farmers this year. (Twitter)

Wet weather this spring has prevented farmers in Ontario from getting into their fields.

Many still don't have anything planted. They're longing for sunshine, so they can put down soybean, corn and other crops.

"We're about 24 days behind our typical start date," said Mark McLean, field crop manager with Brucelea Poultry Farm in Ripley, southeast of Kincardine, in an interview Wednesday with CBC's London Morning.

Mark McLean says once the ground dries, farmers will have to do some 'some fast sleeping and some hard working' to get their crops planted in time for the full growing season.

"We like to be going by the end of April … get things loosened up, get some early corn in. But we haven't had a window at all for April or May to get anything started."

McLean said it means farmers are going to have to hustle with "some fast sleeping and some hard working" when the sun does start to shine.

Ground conditions

He said the ground can't be too wet or too dry, though he concedes the latter hasn't been a problem this year.

"The ground will tell us when it's warm enough and when it's dry enough, and we can go at it then."

McLean said farmers in his area will try to start planting field corn this week and soybeans can go in in a few days if the ground dries out enough.

"The corn goes into conventional tilled ground, so it dries out a little faster with the black dirt on top. And the soybeans go into a 'no till' style type of ground. So, it takes a few more days for it to be fit to plant."

Even if farmers go full out when they get into the fields, McLean said they'll still be behind.

"Nothing is ever typical when you're working with the weather. You just kind of go with the situation you're in and work with it. Sometimes you have to turn the calendar around and not look at."

Last year was devastating for corn farmers in Southwestern Ontario after widespread contamination caused by vomitoxin wiped out much of a bumper crop. Losses were in the tens of millions of dollars.

McLean and his colleagues are hoping for better results this year, even though the disappointing weather has delayed their efforts.

How do they manage the stress?

"Misery loves company and we all kind of visit together. And everybody's connected,  everybody's in the same game."

But as the sun came out early Wednesday morning, McLean was looking on the bright side, hoping it could be the very first day of planting in his region.

"There'll be six of us here. Between fertilizer applicators and field cultivators and planters, we'll be all working together hopefully to be efficient and get 'er done."