Farmtario reporter Diana Martin talks to Rob Lipsett, Beef Farmers of Ontario president, about getting hay and financial support to livestock producers affected by drought; plus, Diana speaks with Albert Tenuta, field crop pathologist with OMAFRA, about identifying tar spot in corn and what steps Ontario growers can take to manage it; and Bruce Burnett and Glen Hallick of MarketsFarm offer a crop update after recent rainfall on the Prairies – how it measured up against the drought – and a look at commodity markets. Hosted by Ed White.
View the transcript of this episode below:
Ed White: [00:00:05] Hello and welcome to Between the Rows. I’m Ed White, your host this week. Today, we’re going to delve into the implications of the rain that most of us go Two analysts from MarketsFarm will join us in the second half of the show to part of the impact to the rain across parched Western Canada and into the east.
Glen Hallick: [00:00:22] We’re looking at a shortage of canola. You know, last year, I think we’re about 18.7 million tonnes came off the Prairie fields. Everybody was hoping for a little bit over 20 million tonnes. I know you talked to traders and analysts there saying, well, maybe it’s going to be 15, might be 17. Some guys are saying to could be as low as 12.
Ed White: [00:00:50] In a minute, we’ll look at some of the challenges northwest Ontario farmers are having with their part of the drought, as well as, get this, a problem created by too much rain in a different part of Ontario.
Albert Tenuta: [00:01:02] If you are the tar spot fungus it’s been great, right? Because well, yeah, we’re hot and sticky right now. Right. So this is ideal weather. So humidity and leaf wetness is better than rainfall in many cases because the leaf itself stays wet. You know, the more humidity, the more leaf wetness that surrounds the tar spot, the more likelihood they will be happy.
Ed White: [00:01:28] But first, I wanted to point out something to you all. We have a YouTube channel just like the K Pop and country stories your kids and grandkids are always telling you about. It’s got a little different focus, though. You can find it on the YouTube site by searching “Between the Rows podcast”. Make sure to include the podcast bid. That’s “Between the Rows podcast.” You’ll find the latest episodes on there. Plus our archive, plus links and other resources to our stories. We hope it’s a place where you’ll be able to let us know about stories in your community and just to let us know what you’re seeing out there. Check it out at Between the Rows podcast,
FarmLink: [00:02:09] Part of being a farmer is being an accountant and a mechanic and a chemist. You have lots on the go. So FarmLink, makes your grain marketing go further. We hope you reach your financial goals with calculated sales decisions. No bias, just solutions and results. Plus, with our new app, Grain Fox, we bring every opportunity right to your fingertips. Literally start seeing the returns, that’ll get your family ahead. You’ve earned it. Farming your work is worth more. Get started at: farmlinksolutions.ca
Ed White: [00:02:50] Now, farmers from Manitoba West have gotten most of the media attention in this terrible drought. But it stretches into Ontario as well. And Farmtario’s Diana Martin is taking a look at an aspect of this drought as Ontario farmers grapple with it today. In this piece, Diana looks at how Ontario farmers who have hay are helping those who don’t with a program called the Northwestern Livestock Emergency Assistance Initiative. Here she speaks with Rob Lipsett, president of the Beef Farmers of Ontario.
Diana Martin: [00:03:24] So can you tell me a little bit about that program and if it’s been able to get some hay and feed like hay, feed, forage, whatever might be beyond the trucks, has been able to actually get any deliveries out to the producers in need?
Rob Lipsett: [00:03:39] Certainly, this is one of those stories that started out bad. But it but we actually got a positive response. I brought this to the attention of the provincial government in late May that we were starting to see drought conditions creep in. So as it went on, we got to the end of June and it was a really serious problem. So the first thing, I spoke to Minister Lisa Thompson about when she assumed her new role was, was the drought situation. Being a farmer herself, she fully understood it and she was very quick to work with us. And the provincial government found some money that we could start a program to get some hay up to the Kenora, Rainy River District strictly to get them through the pasture season. And the idea behind this was an application had gone into the federal government for the national recovery program. But as they investigated what they would need to do for that program, the provincial government felt they needed to step up and do something in the short term. So the program was developed over a weekend. The government decided the best way to do it would be through a transfer payment agreement and that BFO would look after acquiring hay and getting it up to the northwestern portion of the province. And this all came together in a matter of seven days. We designed a program, made application forms. The applications are available for any producers on the BFO website or through the OMAFRA website. And it’s a simple process. And we’re kind of going on your own words, fill out an application number of head, but you must have a premise ID and a farm business registration number to participate in this program.
Diana Martin: [00:05:46] Now, for northern Ontario, you know, it’s very fortunate that you guys are able to work with the province and really expedite this expedite this this hay in the feed. But it is sort of a short-term solution from what looks to be a long-term challenge. I was just reading about the 2002 drought of western predominantly Western Canada. And not only did they have their forage fields burned up pretty much and a lot of their grain crops as well, which created issues of accessible feed throughout the winter. And obviously with Western Canada stretching all actually all the way, the British Columbia with them also suffering a drought. Is there a concern not just for the people who are dealing with this drought, but for all livestock producers that the cost of feed is going to have an impact going forward?
Rob Lipsett: [00:06:56] Yeah, that is a legitimate concern, and I think that we looked at a lot of different ways to approach it, but definitely now that we’ve moved in and have a short-term program underway, all of our focus is now on the long-term and even beyond getting through this winter. But you’ve raised a lot of good points. The predictions for commodity prices are high. This is only going to drive them higher due to supply and demand economics. And I think that’s why it’s imperative that the governments step up and do what they can to provide probably a financial assistance to access some of that more expensive feed. We are understanding that there is feed and pasture available in Quebec and the Maritimes, where we’re investigating different models of moving that feed or moving the cows one way or the other. So we’re looking at a lot of different things. We’ve even got a group of directors on our board looking at two-to three-year solutions. There’s a lot of concern that the hay pasture, the forage crops just aren’t going to come back next year. And so we recognize that there’s going to be work to do to re-establish those stands of feed. And we believe that that shouldn’t be burdened by the producer alone either. So I think we’re pushing that that there’s a lot of different solutions. And there isn’t just a one-size- fits-all solution to this, that we almost need a suite of programs available for producers that they could pick and choose and and kind of custom make a relief program for themselves. And we’re at a real loss. The feed is in short supply. We’re doing the best we can to gather up what there is. But short supply means high prices. And the cattle markets have been very volatile for the past four or five years. And high input costs don’t translate well for what we’re facing right now.
Diana Martin: [00:09:12] Is there work being done in two more drought-resistant forages, whether it’s hay or something else, that that might be able to withstand these conditions, but also do well if it’s a quote unquote, normal season.
Rob Lipsett: [00:09:29] Yeah, I think we’ve kind of lost some of our way on research, and I know it’s not the researchers’ fault, but just through policy and programming done from government levels, I think some of the focus has changed. And then there’s as much as we try to bring attention to those kinds of things, it doesn’t affect anyone until you’re in the situation. So I think this is a really good time for us to start discussions about. Moving some of the forehead’s research back into the public domain. And we’ll need to look at some of those drought-tolerant species. There is private research that we can get our hands on those types of things. But unfortunately, it’s the same as the Covid pandemic. No one understands what kind of problems we have until we get into it. So we’re going to need to look at all options and all alternative feeds. And I think that we can put a positive spin on this and consumers and society itself. You know, environment and climate change is a big issue right now. And it’s, you know, more and more information is coming out that grasslands and forges are great. Climate change protectors them and good for the environment. And I think that we’re going to need to partner with not just government organizations, but a lot of the non-government organizations, Conservative Tories and Ducks Unlimited, those kinds of things, and work on bringing these pastures back in and get some kind of reward programs for doing proper environmental, building up your soil and making those carbon sinks work more effectively. And we’ve seen it in this drought that you could tell in the drier areas which fields and farms did a good job of incorporating fertilizers and organic matter into their fields, because those fields had the ability to hold up a little better than some that got neglected, or next year was the year they were going to get some attention. So I think there’s a lot of different avenues that that our committees can look at. And there’s a lot of solutions that will be able to come up with.
I’m sure we’re going to have to look at global solutions as well. There’s probably droughts that people made it through. On the other side of the world that if we had that information, it would apply here. So we’re going to have to look down every hallway and open every closet door to make sure we bring everything out and get the best programs and the most effective programs to make it through this, both stored and long term.
Ed White: [00:12:41] For more information, lots more about how this huge drought is affecting farmers across the country, have a look at what we’re calling The Dry Times, which is a handy collection of Glacier FarmMedia stories, as well as links to extension and government support services. Go to or search Glacier FarmMedia:b The Dry Times. But now Diana looks at a problem arising in a different part of Ontario, hit by a very different problem. Too much moisture. Here she is speaking with Albert Tenuta, a field crops pathologist with Ontario Agriculture.
Diana Martin: [00:13:20] Has the weather been a challenge in two parts? Has the weather been a challenge with allowing the tar spot to flourish and also being able to run your fungicide programs?
Albert Tenuta: [00:13:33] So, yeah, both of those have been challenging to the good. If you are the tar spot fungus it’s been great, right? Because well, yeah, we’re hot and sticky right now. Right. So this is ideal weather. So humidity and leaf wetness is better than rainfall in many cases because the leaf itself stays wet. You know, the more humidity, the more leaf wetness that surrounds the tar spot and its spores the more likelihood they will be happy,
The other challenge has been in parts of the province of this area here, we’ve had anywhere from 12 inches to 18, 19 inches of rain since July 2nd or so. And so that’s made it difficult to get in as well. Now, having said that, so ground rigs have been delayed a bit, but we still have the window. Right. So that’s the one good thing is the work we’ve done in the past with Northern corn leaf blight, as well as with the tar spot group, you know, the timing of the same.
So whether it’s a tassel to silking that we would see if, say, for foliar relief diseases or for Gibberella ear rot or DON, we have the timing for that, the fungicides that work very effectively against tar spot. We also have those. And so we’re you know, we’re ahead of the game. So we have the tools. It’s just a matter of getting them on. And, you know, the past week and into this week, we’ve seen a lot of helicopters around. So, you know, we may not be getting the ground rigs in as much, but we are also seeing the helicopters have been filling to fill in that void for now. And, you know, more and more rigs are going on you know, this past week and on the weekend here.
Diana Martin: [00:15:20] Now, I’m a I’m a producer. I don’t have tar spot, I don’t think I have to respond. What should I be doing? What am I looking for if I’ve never seen it before? And because it does somewhat mimic other corn leaf issues, right? Yeah. What am I looking for? And what should I be doing if I find some?
Albert Tenuta: [00:15:43] Protocol? Yeah. So right now growers should be doing is just getting into their fields. They should be scouting anyway, especially now that we’re at that tassel-silking stage, you know, in the southwest and slowly moving across the province. So it’s a great time. Should be doing that anyway, regardless of whether we’re looking for tar spot or anything. You should always be having an idea what’s going on, especially as you get those critical growth stages. And this is the big one for corn, right? As it silkens, it’s starting to pollinate. Right. Just to see. And then with the weather this year, there’s been a lot of variability in terms of soaking in that in spots and that so, you know, again, you want to look at uniformity of the crop and overall health of the crop as well. And so what you’re looking for, you know, if you’ve got maple trees, et cetera, and you see that tar spot, you know, and we see that tar spot that we normally will see on that, those big ugly looking globs of tar on those — very similar, but different pathogens. And so one question we get asked a lot is so my maple tree is going to infect my corn, is my corn going to infect my maple trees, different pathogens, the same symptoms, same type of pathogen, etc., but they have different hosts. So, no, there’s no cross infection in that way. And that’s so what you’ll see first. And, you know, if you’ve had it in the you know, for those few growers that had it, you’ll see it down low first.
But the majority with these storm fronts coming in right now, what will be is that it’ll be from the pure leaf up. You’ll see it higher up in the canopy. So, again, depending on what you had, your history of the disease, if you had it before, you want to look down. If it’s if you haven’t, it’s going to be coming up because those spores are going to be landing. They’re going to get intercepted by the leaves, the top leaves. Right. And with this weather, that’s where they’re going to start to infect. That’s what we saw last September. And so get out there. Scout, you know, if it’s this early and you’re seeing it, then, you know, and the weather conditions at this case, fungicide application is probably something to consider, especially because of the other benefits, the northern corn leaf blight. You know, if you’re looking at if you’re on corn on corn, if you’ve got use of the grain for livestock, et cetera, then you’re going to want to be looking at a product in there as well that has some ear rot or DON suppression as well. Right. So every field is different. You have to assess every field different. The good thing is, it’s not a disease to fear. We can manage it. It’s just a matter of awareness and finding it.
Diana Martin: [00:18:19] Is Ontario the only province currently dealing with tar spot? They haven’t seen any out west yet.
Albert Tenuta: [00:18:24] No. So Ontario, based on our proximity to where it is and the Great Lakes, the Great Lakes are wonderful. They also are great if you’re a pathologist or a disease. Right, because it’s hot, humid, that’s the weather. And that so this is still the area, I would suspect, where we will start to see it as moving as Pennsylvania and New York State start coming on board. Then you’re going to start seeing along the lake going into Lake Erie, St. Lawrence. So going up into the Ottawa Valley and then into Quebec. So that south part of Quebec, you know, south of Montreal in that area as well, that’s more likely where it’s going to start. Quebec, probably more so than, say, Manitoba or other areas. Plus, there’s more corn that way.
Ed White: [00:19:19] That was Diana Martin speaking with Albert Tenuta of Ontario AG. Well, it rained a bunch across Western Canada. What does that mean for Prairie farmers to get a sense of that? I’ve turned to two experts at MarketsFarm. And now to explain to us what all this recent rainfall across many parts of the prairies has meant to farmers and will mean to farmers. I welcome Bruce Burnett, the director of Weather and Markets Information for MarketsFarm to the show. Hello, Bruce. Hi. Well, Bruce, that’s been a bunch of rain we got in certain areas, I’m in Manitoba and I’ve been everywhere from southwestern Manitoba to eastern Manitoba, and there’s been lots of rain. What is the general Prairie situation now? Well, what do people get and what does that mean?
Bruce Burnett: [00:20:09] Oh, this past week, we really received probably the best rain certainly had since the start of the growing season. Certainly in some areas, it has eclipsed the total precipitation that we’ve had throughout the June and the early part of August. So we really did receive a fair amount of rain, I would say, especially east of Regina. So from the east in terms of where the heaviest loads came. And we generally receive between two and three inches in those areas. And there is a little bit more some a little bit less. We really into the soil moisture levels with these rains. But as you can imagine, it’s not nearly enough to get us back to even close to normal subsoil moisture. So although the rains are really nice right now, there are two problems with this. First of all, we haven’t got the harvest done. So we would like to see things maybe stop here in the next little while just so that we can finish off this year’s harvest. And secondly, we’re going to need a lot more rain. Let’s see, hopefully in in September, later September, October and November, before the snow begins to fly.
Ed White: [00:21:34] And, you know, obviously for pastures and his cattle producers that have had the quickest extreme problems because they literally in some areas haven’t had, you know, feed for their animals and have had to liquidate. But for crop growers, I mean, this is an awkward time, as you just pointed out, for a lot of rain to come. I mean, it’s harvest. How does this affect that that harvest situation for the various crops?
Bruce Burnett: [00:22:00] I mean, well, again, in the in the southern extreme southern areas of the brain science themselves, a lot of TransCanada highway, we have made progress. So we’ve got more than half the crop in in most of those areas. So any kind of quality damage is probably going to be limited to those in central and northern growing areas. These rains probably aren’t enough by themselves to cause severe downgrading in cereal crops, you might drop a greater snow from these rains, but I’m probably more concerned about persistence of these rains, let’s say, and through September, where we would see larger delays and even more quality degradation of the crops.
Ed White: [00:22:52] And looking forward to that full time when the crop is off. And we need to, you know, see hopefully those very parched subsoil is recharged. How much of a deficit do we have? How far are we behind where farmers would like to be come next spring?
Bruce Burnett: [00:23:09] And again, we have significant deficit that we’ve built up in some areas over the last 18 months. So those are, you know, arrangements for eight inches of deficit in the driest areas from what we would have normally received over that 18—month time frame. So that’s a significant, really tall order. But in order to replenish the soils, we probably need to see three or four months here of above normal precipitation just to put us in a position where we have, um, you know, instead of soil moisture, enough source of moisture that we can make a difference through 2022 crops.
Ed White: [00:24:03] Well, I’m sure we’ll keep watching it. And I thank you very much, Bruce, for joining us on the show today.
Bruce Burnett: [00:24:08] Thank you very much.
Ed White: [00:24:10] That’s Bruce Burnett, the director of Weather Markets Information for Markets Farm. And this is Between the Rows. And now I turn to one of Bruce’s colleagues at MarketsFarm, Glenn Hallick, for a bit of a take on what this will mean for the markets, looking at all this rain and the crop prospects. Hello, Glenn, and welcome to the show.
Glenn Hallick: [00:24:35] Well, thanks for having me, Ed.
Ed White: [00:24:37] So what’s your take on what this has meant so far to the markets and what it means to the outlook, considering this is lots of rain, but coming at a funny time? How’s the market looking at that?
Glenn Hallick: [00:24:51] Well, the rain hasn’t had that much effect on commodity prices. Um, that’s simply because, you know, we had such a long stretch of hot, dry weather. The crop matured really fast. So this rain, for the most part, will affect things other than it might slow down harvest for a few days. Here we are, August 24th and canola jumped up about to about $22 per tonne today.
Ed White: [00:25:22] So in terms of all the fireworks of this summer, this has not turned out to be a big deal.
Glenn Hallick: [00:25:27] If we get more rain later on, you know, builds up that of subsoil moisture level. But in terms of of canola, other than, you know, given guys break off the combine for a few days, it’s I don’t think it’s really done.
Ed White: [00:25:47] And in terms of the long term, is that going to be the question of does this, I guess, affect more 2022 prices than 2021?
Glenn Hallick: [00:26:04] Yeah, well, we’re looking at a shortage of canola. You know, last year, I think we had about 18. million tonnes came off the Prairie fields. Everybody was hoping for a little bit over 20 million tonnes. Now, you talk to traders and analysts there saying, well, maybe it’s going to be 15, might be up to 17 some are saying as low as 12. And we really won’t know anything, you don’t get a good handle until August 30th when StatsCan comes out with its production report.
Ed White: [00:26:44] And what is the biggest factor, you know, in the overall structure of canola prices today? Is that the soil values? Is that what can almost all still follows?
Glenn Hallick: [00:26:54] Yeah, canola. You know, most of the time is the follower. The leader is the Chicago soy complex, especially soy oil is the story. Oil goes up, you know, that day or the day after, canola will rise. And the other way around when soy oil drops down.
Ed White: [00:27:15] And what are you going to be watching most closely as we as we move forward here for the next few weeks?
Glenn Hallick: [00:27:19] Oh, I think we’re going to see that production number start and it’s going to give us on August 30th. How far off are we going to be away from that 20 million tonnes? You know, the ending stocks for 2000-2021 were supposed to be around 700,000 tonnes. Now we got production, you know, five to three million, three to five million tonnes less, maybe even seven million tonnes last year. You know, there’s not enough Canadian canola to go around right now. You know, all because of this this drought. So production numbers and ending stocks are those are those to watch.
Ed White: [00:28:06] Well, thanks very much, Glen, for catching up to us to this situation for us. And thanks for coming on the show.
Glenn Hallick: [00:28:14] Well, thank you so much.
Ed White: [00:28:16] Glen Hallick is a reporter with Glacier Markets Farm. This is Between the Rows. That’s all for this week’s edition of Between the Rows. Before I leave you, I’ll mention two things. Once again, we’re on YouTube search Between the Rows podcast, and we have a great source of drought stories and resources online at Glacier Farm Media. The Dry Times. And with that, I’ll bid you farewell. I’m Ed White, and it was my pleasure being your host this week.
FarmLink: [00:28:57] Part of being a farmer is being an accountant and a mechanic and a chemist. You have lots on the go. So FarmLink makes your grain marketing go further. We hope you reach your financial goals with calculated sales decisions. No bias, just solutions and results. Plus, with our new app, GrainFox, we bring every opportunity right to your fingertips. Literally start seeing the returns. That’ll get your family ahead. You’ve earned it. Farm Link, your work is worth more. Get started at: farmlinksolutions.ca.