Wet weather during the last harvest season and mild winter conditions so far have made circumstances challenging for some area farmers.
What they need now is snow, said Burford farmer Larry Davis, who is a provincial director for the Ontario Federation of Agriculture.
“We do need snow cover for grain crops, to protect them from big swings in temperature.”
Livestock also can suffer from temperature fluctuations, said Davis, adding that ventilation in barns is important to regulate air moisture levels and to reduce the risk of animals getting pneumonia.
Environment Canada meteorologist Peter Kimbell said the first nine days of January have been quite warm, with temperatures six degrees above the average.
“That’s not going to last,” Kimbell noted.
“We’re heading into a cold spell lasting until the end of the weekend.”
Beyond Tuesday, colder weather will again set in, and there is a possibility of snow starting Wednesday.
Kimbell said it’s too early to predict how much snow will fall, but adds that no big storms are expected.
Snowfall totals for Brantford and Brant County typically average six centimetres in November, 24 centimetres in December, and 27 centimetres in January.
So far this month, the area has had only 6.5 millimetres of total precipitation, combining snow and rain.
“We will get snow eventually,” Kimbell said.
“Just not in the short term.”
Meantime, Davis noted that the soy bean harvest was delayed last fall due to rain and moisture in the ground.
“It was almost too late to plant winter wheat and cereal rye,” said Davis, adding that growers were worried whether what did get planted would sprout.
“What got in is doing good,” observed Davis, adding that rye has become a good commodity for local growers to supply whisky distillers.
Davis said that 90 per cent of the grain crops have been harvested by now.
Many corn growers have had to deal with vomitoxin, a disease that can make livestock ill, reducing their weight gain and milk output, he said.
And, while cases of vomitoxin were “significant” locally, Davis said it’s an even bigger problem for farmers west of Brant County, where some growers have had to turn their entire corn crop back into the ground.
He said farmers look forward to less demanding winter season.
“During harvest, many of us are working 14- to 16-hour days, seven days a week.”