Crop insurance deadline passes as some continue to plant in Lambton

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Heather Wright/The Independent

Farmers in Central Lambton are facing an unusual situation; this year’s wheat crop will be coming off early while some farmers are still trying to finish their spring crops.

Lambton County Warden Kevin Marriott who has been a grain farmer for decades, says a heavy rain of about two inches in 20 minutes, led to a lot of ponding on fields particularly in south Lambton. He and other farmers he knows are still completing the last of their work on the spring plant – mostly spraying – while they’re watching the wheat fields which are likely going to be harvested this week.
“Wheat is going to be at least 10 days early if not more,” he tells The Independent adding if the weather warms up dramatically, farmers will be out in the field even sooner. But, Marriott says there are also farmers who have just finished planting their corn crops and the shoots are just coming out of the ground. Many are not sitting in water.

Julie Maw is the Lambton Director for the Grain Farmers of Ontario. She says south Lambton is particularly bad.

“Typically where the farmers have really struggled across Ontario is the heavy clays, because it’s been so wet so often, that they’re just not getting a time to dry.

“A lot of those heavy clay ground have really struggled to even get a plant or on the ground to plant without, you know, causing issues with the soil,” she tells The Independent.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Agricorp – which provides crop insurance – have recognized the problems the weather has caused and extended the time farmers are able to plant their crops and still be ensured against future losses. Maw says some farmers would be working right up until Monday’s midnight deadline to get the last of the soybean crop in. Others are likely to take some risks and continue planting knowing they can’t get insurance.

“It’s hard for them to walk away and leave those unseeded acres and just leave it for the summer, right?

“There’s a big risk you plant after that deadline, and you don’t get a crop and inputs –the fertilizers, the seed, are expensive, and so these are large expenses that maybe they’ve already paid for, that they need to use,” says Maw. “Or they’ve put the fertilizer down on the ground a month ago, and so they want to take advantage of what they’ve already put down. So they’re in kind of a bind to make it happen.”

It is a gamble with big money at stake.

The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture estimates it costs between $755 to $800 to plant just one acre of corn and $365 to $440 per acre of soybeans. If the weather turns bad, on a 100-acre farm that can lead to losses between $36,000 and $80,000 just from the inputs.