Windsor's weather has been frighteningly dry, farmer says
'A lot of farmers have 1988 in the back of their mind'
This summer is shaping up to be as dry as 1988, warns one Essex County farmer.
Twenty-eight years ago, a drought ravaged the Midwest, Prairies and parts of Ontario, including Essex County.
With little rain so far this spring and summer — and little more in the short-term forecast — Kevin Ross is starting to sweat, and not just because of the heat and humidity.
"We're not hitting the panic button yet, but a lot of farmers have 1988 in the back of their mind. That was the worst drought we've ever seen," Ross said.
In 1988, Ross was farming with his dad.
"This early on in the season, we're drier this year than we were that year," Ross said. "That year was quite devastating for Essex County. The agriculture economy suffered greatly that year."
Windsor-Essex received 59 millimetres of rain in May, below the normal of 89 mm.
In June, 37.4 mm of rain fell. The normal is 86 mm. No significant rainfall is in the short-term forecast.
Last month was the driest May since 2005 and June is shaping up to be the driest since 2005, too.
Crops 'really struggling'
Ross grows soybeans, corn and wheat.
"They're really struggling right now," Ross said. "Any young crops that don't have roots that are real deep yet are struggling the most."
Ross said he planted as deep as he could.
Crops are living off "sub soil moisture" at the moment.
"But that won't last forever," Ross warned.
An Environment Canada meteorologist called the weather patterns similar to those of 1988 and, aside from spotty storms, said no relief is on the horizon.
In search of 'normal year'
"At this point, we'll take what we can get," Ross said. "That rain the other day was nice but we could use much more, that's for sure."
Just not as much as last year, when Windsor-Essex experienced its wettest June on record.
Ross called last spring "one of the most challenging spring I've ever had." Because of the rain, he couldn't plant 130 acres.
"No two years [are] the same," Ross said. "A lot of farmers say, 'It'd be nice to have a normal year.' But we don't know what a normal year is anymore."