Drought & heat wave : the corn harvest threatened

Sécheresse & canicule : la récolte de maïs menacée

A producer of sweet corn in the Montérégie afraid of losing 80 % of his crop if he does not receive more water than the shy 10 millimetres of rain the day before yesterday.

“He must wet more. I’ve never seen that in 40 years of the plants as dry as it’s in June “, is worried about Michel Meunier, a producer of fifth generation, which sells items such as his corn at the Atwater market.

“It irrigates about 20 % of the area. We have enough (water) for once or twice. Then, it will be finished, ” adds his son, Mikael Miller, co-owner of the farm which bears the name of his father, Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu.

As in this photo, corn plants normally expected to exceed 1.2 metres at this stage of the season.

Drought affects virtually all regions of Quebec, said the director-general of the Union des producteurs agricoles (UPA), Charles-Felix Ross.

“We had several episodes of drought, but what is different this year is that it is very early : there is a lack of water everywhere. It affects the vast majority of producers of sweet corn. “

The farmers do not know where to give head so the ground is dry. Some regions of Quebec have twice received less rain than the historical average of 1981-2010, according to Agrométéo.

Price increase

For Catherine Brodeur, v.-p., economic studies, the Groupe AGÉCO, specialized in agri-food economy, the drought comes as the seedlings need water to grow.

“It could have an impact on the price of sweet corn, which matures early. If this crop is compromised by the drought, one is likely to feel the effects on our good old épluchettes “, she imaged.

A notice as grade the professor of management at Dalhousie University Sylvain Charlebois, for fear of putting the cart before the horse.

“The UPA is still fear mongering with the weather, but it is true that the situation will deteriorate if it continues these next two weeks. In Ontario and in Western canada, they have invested in irrigation systems, it would be time to do the same thing here “, he analyzed.

Irrigation systems

At Ferme Michel Meunier, this is exactly the observation that has the family done.

In the Face of the magnitude of the disaster, she made a call to a firm of outside, which comes from him to install an irrigation system for 100 000 $.

“By saving 20% of the harvest, we could not do deficit. If he wets, he will think may be to make a profit, but otherwise, if it just happens to be zero, we will be very happy given the situation “, explained Mikael Miller.

When asked if climate change has an impact on this heat wave, he takes a breath before starting.

“Before, we heard stories from the american Midwest, where there were droughts, but for the past 10 years, we have had to irrigate at least seven times we also. Corn can tolerate dry weather, but there was just more water, ” concludes Mikael Meunier, before spinning into his truck, which raises the dry earth into clouds of dust.

♦ In 2018, more than 266 of 667, or nearly 40 % of agricultural holdings of sweet corn were in the Montérégie region, and nearly 90 % of the production was processed in this region, according to the ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food of Quebec (MAPAQ).

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