by Isabel Mosseler

It was their time to show off their best crops. On Wednesday, April 10, the West Nipissing East Sudbury Soil & Crop Improvement Association (WNESSCIA) held its annual Forage & Seed Fair at the Verner Arena, where 15 area farmers displayed 47 samples of haylage, silage, pulse and seed crops. Mitch DesChatelets, president, and Norm Delorme, secretary, welcomed 46 guests to a day of learning, crop research updates, test plot reviews by OMAFRA, reports on the tiling programs, information on satellite imaging and the International Plowing Match 2019. The very full day ended with awards and presentations.

Michel Champagne of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) presented the economic impact of farming with year over-year-statistics on the amounts of land being cleared and tiled throughout the region from Parry Sound, Nipissing and Sudbury. In 2016, agriculture generated $14.1 million for the Nipissing area, with a GDP (gross domestic product) of $39 million and 810 jobs. There are 218 active farms, and while the number has dropped, the size of farms and the income generated has shot up, said Champagne. Cash cropping is steadily increasing and this is directly related to the tiling programs in place. “Across the north the program is working… I’m optimistic the program will survive,” he said, in reference to recent meetings with provincial officials.

Pierrette DesRoches, the local OMAFRA representative out of Verner, provided the update from local crop research and test plots. Area farmers use these results to make decisions on what sort of seeds to purchase. Of considerable interest were the temperature records kept by Gérald Beaudry. DesRoches provided a graph, which clearly indicates a steep rise in seasonal temperatures. Beaudry also explained that the temperature records are only applicable to the growing season, between May 1st and October 16. The graph over 30 years, said Gérald Beaudry, clearly shows the area is warming, with corn heat units spiking up during the growing season. He added that the season is longer into the fall, with 10 to 15 days in October, and killing frosts are a bit later. In the summer, the average air temperature hovered at 22 degrees in 2018.

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Top crop award winners: Aimé Beaudry, Josée Séguin, Ferme Cascade, WN Queen of the Furrow Zoë Dauphinais and Clément Rainville.Type your paragraph here.

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