Despite dry conditions, district farmers seem to be putting up average or slightly better than normal hay yields this summer.
Gary Sliworsky, district representative for the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, said those who have been re-seeding and fertilizing their fields the past few years have been doing well this summer.
“I’ve got a lot of people mentioning that they have hay for sale,” Sliworsky said. “It might not have been as high as they wanted, but it was thick and gave good yields.
“It’s better than we expected due to lack of rain,” he said.
“There’s people doing second cut right now,” echoed Kim Jo Calder, area farmer and manager at the Emo Research Station.
“Some people are short of hay but lots of people are selling hay,” she said. “It was a little bit of a better year for hay.”
The summer has been a dry one, Sliworsky noted, with some areas not receiving any rainfall in the last three weeks.
But the rest of the province has been hit harder than the district. The Ontario Federation of Agriculture last week declared drought is plaguing much of Ontario.
“In many counties, such as Grey/Bruce, reports are coming in regarding very acute circumstances,” said OFA president Ed Segsworth, noting the drought has been particularly hard on pasture, and wells are at dangerously low levels.
“Even if it rains hard for a week, the financial impact of the drought will be felt by livestock and other producers well into the future,” he remarked.
Calder said she has noticed pastures have become dry and are turning “brown and quite crispy.” But she didn’t think the low moisture levels have reached a critical level yet.
“Anybody I’ve been talking to [has] said it’s not too bad,” Sliworsky added. “It’s dry [though] and a little bit of moisture wouldn’t be bad.”
It’s a different story for cereal crops, with the low moisture levels seeming to hit them the worst of all.
“Some of the fields look spotty,” Sliworsky said. “Corns seems to be pretty variable across the district.”
But Sliworsky pointed out many farmers will be left in a good position come fall, despite the abnormally dry conditions.
“I moved here a little over 12 years ago. This is exactly what my first summer was like,” Sliworsky said, noting things returned to normal the next year.
“A little more frequent moisture would be nice [but] I’ve talked with more people who have been happy with the weather than unhappy,” he added.