Local farmers say they are not sure how the rain deluge will affect the crops just yet

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It’s too soon to know if several days of on-and-off rain will help Oxford County farmers’ moisture-deprived crops.

“I think this rain and the rain last week and the week before will definitely help,” said Amy Matheson, a spokesperson for the Oxford County Federation of Agriculture. “It won’t be until harvest that we will see what the effects of the rain are.”

Matheson, who farms at two locations in Zorra Township, said the rain has been so spotty that even neighbouring farmers have reported very different amounts of rainfall. While their farms are only a single concession away from the other, Matheson said one received much less rain than the other.

The rain, she said, appears to have helped at least one of her crops.

Soybeans, she said, that sprouted as a “homely” crop now appear “to have rallied.”

However, despite recent torrential rains, corn would still have been affected by the very dry July. While the crop loves hot weather, it also needs regular moisture.

“The way corn is pollinated, if it is really dry during the crucial pollinating time, that affects the yield,” Matheson said.

Alfalfa crops, which feed livestock, have also been affected by the drought but may rebound for the fourth cut.

“The first, second and third cuts were horrible,” Matheson said. “Not only did it not grow, but the protein (levels) were affected.”

That means farmers may have to add corn to their feed or add a protein supplement.

“That costs money,” she said.

However, a saving grace of the unusual weather patterns may result in a fourth cut of alfalfa.

“It looks to us like the fourth cut will be more abundant than the first and second combined,” she said.

Matheson said she considers herself lucky due to the loamy soil conditions on her farms, compared to those with sandier conditions, such as Tillsonburg and Norwich, “who have really suffered.”

Matheson points out that too much rain could also hurt the crops.

“If we get the amount they say we are, that will take days to dry out,” she said.

As long as the rain is followed by dry, sunny days, crops will manage to survive the deluge.

Meanwhile, Geoff Coulson of Environment Canada, said a total of 95 millimetres fell on the London area during the past few days, more rainfall than the entire month of July.

“It has been coming as a big surge of water in the last day or so,” he said.

Much of the rainfall before Tuesday had been very localized across the province.

“Even someone five or 10 kilometres away weren’t getting anything,” he said.

Tuesday’s rain was more consistent, he said, with everyone “getting something.”

While steady rain ended Tuesday morning, the tail end of the unsettled system was expected to continue to sweep through the area with thunderstorm warnings Tuesday and possible rain showers Wednesday afternoon.

The end of the week and weekend was expected to bring some sunshine back to the area starting on Thursday.

HRivers@postmedia.com

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