London soybean farmers hope to match record set by wheat crop

20.10.2016

After harvesting a record wheat crop earlier this summer, some farmers in the London region are looking at scoring a repeat with soybeans.

“Soybeans are much better than anyone anticipated. Many people in the London area are having record yields,” Peter Johnson, a Southwestern Ontario-based agronomist with Real Agriculture, said Wednesday.

Soybeans are Ontario’s biggest cash crop with sales in 2015 at the farm gate exceeding $1.4 billion. In Middlesex County, soybeans typically bring in more than $100 million a year.

While the London region and much of Southwestern Ontario fared well, it wasn’t the same story in the Niagara Peninsula where it remained dry through most of August.

“There is some real disasters down there with fields that are hardly worth harvesting and the soybean quality is brutal,” Johnson said.

Grain corn harvest has started in the London region.

Johnson said yields being reported are incredibly variable, with some growers harvesting as few as 40 bushels an acre and others bringing in 260 bushels, with some even higher at 270 bushels an acre.

“Sometimes in the same field the yield monitor will go from 40 bushels to 200 bushels as you go across the field, depending on soil type,” he said.

A concern with this year’s corn crop in Southwestern Ontario is the level of toxin in some of the crop.

A survey by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs found 26 per cent of the corn crop that was tested had vomitoxin levels greater than two parts per million, the threshold where the corn can’t be used to feed hogs.

“It is not a disaster — 75 per cent of crop looks like it is OK — but we are going to have to be careful using the corn crop, that is the bottom line,” Johnson said.

While farmers harvested a record winter wheat crop in the summer with a one million acre crop, Johnson said it appears Ontario farmers will plant about 20 per cent less this fall.

The problem is the low price, he said.

“It is really unfortunate because wheat brings so much value in the rotation. It is really critical from a soil health point. It is unfortunate the economics are pushing us away from it,” Johnson said.

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