Ottawa

Early snow threatens corn, soybean harvest

Farmers in eastern Ontario and western Quebec are having difficulty harvesting their crops this fall thanks to an early blanket of snow.

Farmers facing formidable challenge with snow blanketing Ottawa-area fields

 

During a typical autumn, Sylvain Quenneville would be wrapping up his corn harvest at his farm in Casselman, Ont., east of Ottawa, by now.

But this hasn't been a typical autumn.

The area got about 12 centimetres of snow last week, and Quenneville's equipment isn't built to handle it.

"The thresher can't beat snow," he said in French on Sunday. "We have to wait for the snow to melt … [or it] will just go through the thresher."

Sylvain Quenneville farms in Casselman, Ont., (Denis Babin/Radio-Canada)

"We're not ready to throw in the towel … but we're starting to despair a little," said Marc Quesnel, a farmer in nearby Moose Creek, Ont.

Quesnel said he can't harvest his soybeans if there's even the slightest trace of snow on the ground.

Marc Quesnel farms in Moose Creek, Ont., about halfway between Ottawa and Cornwall, Ont. (Boris Proulx/Radio-Canada)

Only once in the last decade has the Ottawa airport measured an earlier double-digit snowfall, at the end of last October.

An icy winter followed, coating Quesnel's fields and killing a good portion of the crops underneath. Then there was a late, dry summer, delaying this fall's harvest.

Quesnel said he still has nearly 40 hectares of crops to gather, and would like help from the province to deal with the weather challenges of the last year or so.

The Producteurs de grains du Québec is making a similar request for farmers in that province, saying as of Sunday nearly 75 per cent of Quebec's corn crop and nearly 10 per cent of its soybeans remain under snow cover.

According to the industry group, corn is a $675-million-per-year industry in Quebec, while soybeans are worth about $500 million.

With files from Radio-Canada's Denis Babin and Boris Proulx

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