Inwood farmers suffer winter wheat losses


About half the winter wheat in the Inwood area is a write-off after a long, hard winter.

There was concern voiced for the wintering crop in January after a rain and then freeze. At that time, farmers said the ice underneath the snow could smother the young plants which normally lie dormant during the winter.

Ron McDougall, past president of the Lambton Federation of Agriculture, says in Inwood, those concerns have become reality. “A lot of the crop around Inwood has been destroyed,” he told The Independent. “About 50 percent around Inwood has been taken out.”

Many farmers have killed off what was left, leaving the usually bright green crop, red. While there are problem spots around Central Lambton, McDougall says the Inwood area seems to have suffered the most damage.

“This year had a rain early on in January, then it froze and the ice smothers out the wheat,” he says. “This spring with the freezing and thawing, that will heave it out of the ground damaging the plant, too.”

While farmers with winter wheat are dealing with winter kill, grain farmers are “getting antsy” according to LFA President Brooke Leystra with the cold rainy weather. Few farmers have been able to get out on the field to plant this spring’s crop and Leystra says as time drags on, farmers may have switch which variety of corn they use to accommodate the shorter growing season.

“If this weather continues…farmers will just change their management decision. They will switch varieties plant or some will plant more beans…not one of those situation which will be detrimental.”

When farmers will actually be able to get on their rain soaked field is a question which changes daily, according to McDougall. “I thought earlier this week that if it warmed up, maybe by the end of the week – had it not rained today (Monday).”

McDougal says it will take at least three or four days – depending on the soil type -without rain for the fields to dry before farmers can get out on the land for planting. And even though it is mid-May, McDougall says crops have been planted much later –in June in 1983.

“I had one farmer say to me ‘I have always harvested a crop… sometimes they haven’t been good or as good as other years.’ We always have to be optimistic as farmers.”