Wet start delays Ontario field production

06/09/2011 10:48:00 AM
Dan Gailbraith

Carrot planting proceeded, but it, too, could be frustrating, Pearce noted.

“Normally, you’re done and the tractors are washed off and you sit there, but this year, it seems like you have one day to plant and you get five days of rain.”

Kevin Butters, president of Whalls Farms. St. Thomas, Ontario, agreed the weather was an obstacle. but he counted his blessings.

“We have enough sandier ground that we were able to get everything in on time,” he said. “I’m very fortunate. Now,you go 40 kilometers to the left, and they’re not very happy people.”

His company grows and ships sweet corn, peas, squash, and green beans among a long list of products that also includes non-produce items.

In fact, a diverse product portfolio kicks into gear in a bad-weather year like 2011, Butters said.

“It gets you through the highs and lows on some, and some things have yields it helps guide the local economy because you have so much going on close to the lake,” he said.

Other growers voiced optimistic outlooks, in spite of the weather.

“It’s slow, and it’s wet, but we’re doing all right,” said Steve Chary, president of Chary Produce, an Oakland, Ontario-based grower-shipper of tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, sweet corn and cabbage. “It’s going to be OK, nothing alarming. Everything is going to be fine, but the weather has been really temperamental — way more rain than we normally get here.”

Ontario growers have a strong asset in wet seasons, and that’s the land, said Tony Tomizza, president of Dominion Farm Produce Co., Bradford, Ontario.

“Because we have some good, rich soils that absorb a lot of water, we’re probably in better shape than other areas in Manitoba and Quebec,” he said. “Even so, it’s still having a hard time. It will have a lot of weeds. It’s going to be tough and a little later than normal years.”

Dominion’s deal will get into high gear by early August, as opposed to mid-July, he added.



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