Average crop yields forecast

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For Ontario farmers, bumper corn and soybean crops are in the rear-view mirror.

While farmers a year ago were looking at record corn yields and a heavy soybean crop, this year the outlook isn’t as promising.

“It looks like the corn is average to below average,” said Moe Agostino, chief commodity strategist with Farms.com Risk Management.

The soybean crop also looks to be average to below average, he said.

Agostino is participating in a two-week tour of Ontario’s farm belt to evaluate the yield potential of the province’s corn and soybean crops.

The conclusion that this won’t be a bumper year comes after the tour has evaluated crops this week in some of the best growing areas of Ontario, including Essex, Chatham-Kent, Lambton, Middlesex, Oxford, Elgin and the Niagara area.

The worst area has been Haldimand County and Niagara where farmers received only about three inches of rain since spring.

“The whole area is a writeoff,” said Agostino.

Across Ontario, precipitation has averaged only half of normal this season.

Recent rains will have little benefit for maturing corn and soybean plants, mainly increasing harvest weight, Agostino said.

The tour found few disease problems in the soybean crop, but a lot of corn fields have been hit by corn smut and cutworms.

The lower Ontario corn and soybean yields come when the United States, the main influence on Ontario crop prices, is set to harvest their largest corn and soybean crops in history, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture projections.

The bright spot for Ontario cash crop farmers this year has been winter wheat with new yield records set.