Hamilton area corn growers optimistic despite dry July

Kevin Gallant of Gallant Farms displays the peaches, cream and yellow corn he produces on his Norfolk County farm at the July 27 Ancaster Farmers Market.
  • Sheila Klyn-Hesselink of Fenwick Berry Farms fills a bag of sweet corn for a customer at the Ancaster Farmers Market on July 27.

Local corn has arrived at stores and farmers’ markets across the Hamilton area.

And although growing conditions have been less than ideal, growers remain optimistic for another strong season, thanks to much-needed rains and supplemental irrigation.

Until July 26, Hamilton had received just 56.3mm of rainfall for the month, down from 99.1mm in July 2021.

At the Ancaster Farmers’ Market on July 27, the price of corn was $1 an cob or $10 a dozen.

A shortage of rain means additional expenses for irrigation and fuel for farmers like Kevin Gallant of Gallant Farms.

Gallant, who grows peaches and cream, yellow and white corn on his farm in Norfolk County, hoped rain in late July would help ease his workload.

“We irrigated for three weeks,” he noted. “It’s a lot of extra work.”

Gallant was grateful for some rain over the weekend of July 23, but was also looking forward to additional precipitation during the evening of July 27 and into early August.

“Hopefully we get it. It’s less work for me,” he said.

Dawn Pate from Brantwood Farms was one of many vendors offering sweet corn at the Ancaster Market. The Brant County farm, in operation since 1891, produces a range of fruits and vegetables, as well as cut flowers.

While corn will continue to grow in dry weather, it needs water to grow big, which makes current growing conditions difficult, Pate noted.

“It was very, very dry for a lot of crops. But we are fine now,” Pate said. “We ended up having to irrigate some of our sweet corn just to get it going, but now it’s running full blast and a lot is coming.”

Sheila Klyn-Hesselink of Fenwick Berry Farms, another Ancaster Farmers Market vendor, said while some other crops needed extra irrigation due to dry weather, the family’s sweet corn crop is doing well under current conditions. .

“It went well,” Klyn-Hesselink said.

The Niagara farm has been using a drip irrigation system for several years, which is especially vital for crops like apples and peaches to produce an appealing meaty texture.

Cranston Farms is also well known for sweet corn in the Ancaster area.

In a July 26 Facebook post, Cranston Farms announced that staff would begin picking sweet corn on July 28. While supply was expected to be limited the last weekend in July due to dry weather, the Farmers Market at 37 Carluke Rd. E. on the corner of Fiddlers Green will be open daily from 9:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. and 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. on Sunday.

“Our supply of sweet corn may be limited over the weekend (of July 30) as the dry weather conditions in July (have) severely affected the yield of our first planting,” the Facebook post read. “After the first week, our supply should be good.”

Meanwhile, Hamilton homeowners are urged to limit their water usage due to low water levels in the Hamilton Conservation Authority (HCA) watershed.

In a July 28 news release, the HCA Hamilton Low Water Response Team declared a Level 1 low water condition for the entire Hamilton watershed. conservation authority.

The Water Shortage Response Team encourages a 10% reduction in water consumption.

“This applies to all users of water supplied by streams, water bodies and groundwater sources within the HCA catchment,” the statement said. “Reducing the use of these water sources at this critical time will avert more severe shortages in the watershed and lessen the impact of reduced water availability on our environment.

Water users dependent on the municipal water system are asked to follow all active municipal water use bylaws.

STORY BEHIND THE STORY: With local corn now in season, we wanted to know how growers coped with the drier than normal July.

About Marco C. Nichols

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