Berries, hay mean summer
This has to be one of the best times of the year, unless you are a parent dreading the prospect of hearing, “But there’s nothing to do” from whinging children for the next two months.
For most of us, early July is the period when Summer really begins. The sights, sounds and smells of the verdant landscape remind us that, yes, life can be grand, and humid and dirty.
Strawberries and freshly cut hay provide a glorious sensory combination as corn crops seem to grow taller every minute and pea plants continue their ascent.
By the way, Ontario field strawberries are now ripe, with growers saying this year's cool spring is resulting in an exceptional crop.
“For most of us, Ontario strawberries are one of the great tastes of summer. You can enjoy these healthy and delicious fruits fresh on their own, baked in a dessert or made into jam,” points out Ernie Hardeman, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.
“Whether you pick them up at your local grocery store and farmers' market, or visit a pick-your-own farm, Ontario's hardworking farmers have harvested the first fruits of the season for you to share today and throughout the summer,” the minister notes.
“Ontario's cool spring has done wonders for strawberry plants,” said Tom Heeman, Chairman of the Berry Growers of Ontario. “There really is no comparison to the taste and flavour of a true local Ontario strawberry, and this year they will be in great supply. Enjoy the taste of summer with the first fruits of the season!”
More than 1,900 acres of field strawberries are harvested in Ontario each year.
Apart from providing exercise and an outing into the great outdoors, strawberries are high in antioxidants and vitamin C.
Hay is another commodity that is synonymous with summer. The first cuts usually coincide with the last few days of the school year. Few smells can beat the odour of lush green hay being mowed. This treat for the nose might explain some people believe that cutting grass can actually be therapeutic. A few hours operating a mower can indeed clear one’s head.
Hay has always been a staple of livestocks’ diets. But the commodity is also a promising cash crop.
The Ontario Hay and Forage Co-operative has been trying to enlist members in order to build a new double compacting facility in southern Ontario that would facilitate exports.
The goal would be set up a facility that could handle 100,000 tonnes annually.
This form of feed has great potential since there are about 300,000 horses in Ontario, and the numbers are increasing.
The U.S. has over 9 million horses. Many of these are located in the eastern States, within trucking distance from Ontario.
A horse will typically consume 2.0 to 2.5 % of its body weight per day in forage dry matter. There are also feeding losses when hay is trampled or wasted. Some of the forage is pasture, but mostly dry hay. This means there are approximately 750,000 tonnes of hay fed to Ontario horses every year. All of these facts may make us regard fields in a different light. As farmers and gardeners know, growing your own is a tough, and very rewarding, row to hoe.