Harvest weathers drought

The doom and gloom being predicted for area farmers at the height of this summer’s drought, has not come to fruition locally and most area farmers are now wrapping up an early harvest season.

Archie Mellan, local councillor and Hulbert cash crop farmer, spoke with The Leader Monday about this year’s harvest. “Generally, I think most are pleasantly surprised,” said Mellan.

This year the soybean crop was about average on his farm. “The beans came through amazingly well,” said Mellan, explaining that they are more resilient to the drought conditions experienced this summer.

On his farm, the corn yield was about half a tonne per acre below the normal average. 

Mellan said the corn yields this year are very sporadic and directly reflect the amount and timing of the rain, explaining that those farms a little to the north of his farm seem to have even lower yields, while those to the south seem to have slightly higher yields.

“Those sporadic rains really made a difference,” said Mellan.

Although the corn harvest was below average, Mellan said, “We are satisfied with what we got. It’s a lot better than the doom and gloom they were forecasting back in July and August.”

The dry weather did allow the corn to mature and dry down quickly.

This year, his corn harvest was finished by the end of October, which is two or three weeks ahead of schedule for an average year.

Because prices are driven by the US market, droughts in that country mean that prices have been driven up. 

“So, the price makes up for the yield lost,” said Mellan.

“In this area, everybody’s down a bit, but we’re not too bad off. In other areas yields are down, 1-1.5 tonnes per acre, and it’s hard to recoup that.”

The farmers most affected by this year’s drought locally are dairy farmers, as there is a real shortage of forage. 

“The second cut of hay this year, was basically non-existent,” said Mellan. “I’ve seen them taking off hay into October, because they simply need the tonnage of feed. Maybe they can make up the difference with corn silage.” 

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