Sep 20, 2013 by Lee Hart

In the heart of corn and soybean country

Corn and soybeans as far as the eye can see (or at least ‘til the next tree line) and nary a combine anywhere from Virginia, to

Most corn and soybean fields in my travels showed this stage of maturity

Most corn and soybean fields in my travels showed this stage of maturity

Pennsylvania, to New York and now back into Eastern Ontario…the harvest has yet to begin.

A lot of crop out there and from a casual observation much of it looks pretty good. Must have been a reasonable growing season in this part of the world. I noticed a few corn and soybean fields completely brown and dry looking, the majority of fields are mottled green and yellow as crops senes, and yet others look green and vibrant as they probably did at the peak of the growing season in mid-summer.

The really dry fields looked like they might have been desiccated for early dry down, but it may just be the variety that matures very early. I stopped to look at one plot of 2500 CHU soybeans near Winchester, south of Ottawa that was completely brown and dry and right next to it was a 2800 CHU variety that still had a fair bit of green.

ABOUT CLIMATE CHANGE

I read a couple interesting articles in the past week dealing with agriculture and climate change. A full-page feature in USA Today talked about how global warming is allowing farmers in northern tier states to grow crops — corn and soybeans— that hadn’t been possible a few decades ago. And that no doubt applies to Canada as well.

A few fields of beans and corn appeared to be dry and ready for harvest.

A few fields of beans and corn appeared to be dry and ready for harvest.

The article credited this all to global warming, but didn’t mention that breeding of shorter-season varieties might also be part of the equation.

Overall, climatologists say the U.S. has warmed on average by one full degree Fahrenheit over the past century, although on a regional basis you can find temperatures have warmed by as much as 2.7 degrees in North Dakota, for example. A couple different sources in the article say that means the growing season in North Dakota has been extended anywhere from 12 to 21 days.

While the change has meant heat-loving crops can now be grown further north, climatologists also see some of the traditionally warmer southern states such as Florida and California aren’t getting the “chill” days needed for proper fruit production. In Texas with hotter, dryer conditions, farmers have switched from producing annual crops, to forages for livestock.

So I read all that, and then another article on climate change this morning says scientists appear confused why global warming or climate change appears to have stalled over the past 15 years. The pace appears to be slowing even though greenhouse gas emissions keep rising. Some scientists preparing this report for the United Nations wanted to include the “slow down” in global warming in the report, and others wanted to leave it out because they felt in the big picture it would only be confusing.

Well I have always been confused on the whole issue of climate change and global warming — if it is happening and what is dry cobcausing it. There I was at Smithsonian Museum of Natural History in the past week watching a short video on a dig where they discovered a certain species of elephant. As I recall they said this elephant roamed the planet for about 300 million years before it disappeared about 100 million years ago.

I doubt if this beast disappeared due to hunting pressure. More likely it was due to habitat loss due to climate change over the centuries.

I am not a full-blown tree hugger but I do believe in good environmental stewardship, and the importance of reducing or eliminating any pollution we can. However, my gut feeling is that climate change is going to happen regardless of what we do, and whether we want it or not.

Lee Hart is a field editor for Grainews in Calgary, Contact him at 403-592-1964 or by email at [email protected]

 

 

Lee Hart

Lee Hart


Lee Hart is a long-time farm writer, and honorary member of the Alberta Institute of Agrologists, with many observations on the agriculture industry, who never hesitates to admit he is wrong (should that ever happen.)


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