News

Mixed bag for soybean growers

By Monte Sonnenberg, Simcoe Reformer

Matt Breedyk of Port Dover is among dozens of area farmers taking advantage of the great weather to harvest their soybeans. MONTE SONNENBERG / SIMCOE REFORMER

Matt Breedyk of Port Dover is among dozens of area farmers taking advantage of the great weather to harvest their soybeans. MONTE SONNENBERG / SIMCOE REFORMER

SIMCOE  - 

The past two years have been challenging for local soybean growers, but they aren’t complaining about the weather they’ve had so far in October.

Combines everywhere are racing up and down fields taking advantage of the prolonged summer southern Ontario has been treated to in recent weeks. The weather of late has reduced moisture content while firming up fields for harvesting.

How quickly growers are filling up their combines and trailers depends on where their fields are and how much rain they got.

Summer rainfall in Haldimand and Norfolk was hit-and-miss.

Soybean fields that caught the rain when it was needed are producing good yields. Those that didn’t are posting substandard yields like most every field in Ontario did last year thanks to the hot dry weather.

“It’s been an average year, except where the disease and weeds hit,” says Larry Davis, Haldimand, Norfolk and Brant’s representative to the Ontario Federation of Agriculture. “But it’s been better than last year when there was nothing in place.”

Davis says Norfolk and Haldimand are unique in south-central Ontario for the sporadic nature of the rainfall last summer.

Many areas in surrounding counties got too much rain. As such, mould and fungus are an issue. Where farmers didn’t spray for fungus, Davis says yields are down as much as 75 per cent.

Farmers fortunate to get the right amount of rain at the right time are reporting yields of up to 65 bushels an acre. Farmers enduring a substandard year are looking at about 35 bushels an acre. Soybean prices have held steady at about $11.50 a bushel for the past year.

“It’s quite a challenge to make ends meet when yields aren’t great,” says Scott Persall, Norfolk and Elgin’s district representative to the Grain Farmers of Ontario.

Rarely does a year go by when Ontario farmers aren’t confronted with new challenges. For soybean producers, a major new development has been the rapid spread of a hardy prolific weed known as Canadian flea bane.

The weed is a problem because it is showing signs of glyphosate resistance. This is a concern because glyphosate is the active ingredient in effective, benign herbicides such as Roundup. Farmers with thick concentrations of flea bane are giving these areas a wide berth to avoid clogging or damaging their combines.

Soybeans are a versatile commodity used in a wide range of foodstuffs. Soybean oils and flour are often found in cooking and baked products. Soybeans are also processed into a wide range of meat and dairy substitutes.

Soybeans are a reliable source of livestock feed and can be processed into biofuels.

MSonnenberg@postmedia.com