Southern Ontario: Many crops are affected this summer by drought

Tyler Griffin, The Canadian Press

Hot, dry weather has resulted in the death of some crops in southern Ontario over the past few weeks.

The recent lack of rain in the southwest of the province means that Crispin Colvin’s farm in Thorndale will produce less corn than usual, which will mean much less income for farmers like him who depend on crops as the main source of income.

‘It’s stressful to say the least,’ says Mr Colvin, who grows soybeans, corn and hay for cattle, ‘but there’s not much you can do when it’s dry like this. . »

Crispin Colvin, who is also the executive director of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, says less rain and therefore lower yields will create a domino effect in the food chain because there will be less produce, which which will drive up prices.

“I want the consumer to have what he wants, what he expects, but I can’t get there without rain. »

An Agriculture Canada analysis that looks at the severity of drought conditions across Canada shows abnormally dry conditions from Chatham-Kent in southwestern Ontario to Vaughan, north of Toronto .

Trevor Hadwen, a climate scientist with the federal ministry, points out that while some crops can do well in dry conditions, others, such as corn and soybeans, struggle during their flowering period.

« We need some moisture, some wind and milder temperatures to get through this critical phase of the growing season for corn growers, » Hawden said.

James Herrle, a grower near Waterloo, says the rain that fell early on Monday is likely the heaviest the region has seen in two months, but growers would need three or four times that amount to help some crops at this stage. , in his opinion. « I see a lot of crops, especially corn and soybeans, that seem to be really hurting and some of them are past the point of no return, » said Herrle, who grows a variety of fresh vegetables and soybeans. .

“There is definitely a trickle down effect in terms of what it looks like to the consumer. This should lead to increased costs as there is less supply in the market. »

According to a monthly report from the University of Waterloo Weather Station, half of June’s precipitation fell in the first week of the month, followed by nearly two weeks of no rain. Rainfall totaled just 48.6 millimeters, well below the long-term average of 82.4 millimeters for this time of year, making it the region’s driest June in 15 years , says the report.

Frank Seglenieks, the weather station coordinator, says the first 15 days of July saw only about 4 millimeters of precipitation, continuing the pattern of dry conditions seen the previous month.

“Virtually all of southern Ontario had to deal with this drought,” according to Frank Seglenieks, who adds that such conditions are only observed in the region every 20 years, on average.

Forecasts show the possibility of wetter conditions towards the end of July and early August, he said, but questions remain about how much rain it will bring and whether it will be widespread enough to counter the water deficit seen these days. last months.

Higher levels of precipitation in spring and winter, and drier conditions in summer, are consistent with what changing climate patterns show for this part of the country, he says.

« It is impossible to say that a specific season, a specific month, a specific day is 100% caused by climate change », according to Frank Seglenieks, « but what we have seen is certainly in line with what we expect to see in the future. »

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