Considering the scalding temperatures and dry conditions on his farm this summer, Lorne Loeppky is feeling content about his corn crop.
Loeppky, who farms near Niverville, Man., expects his corn yields will be above average this year.
“It’s real early … but I’m thinking we’re going to end up (at) 120 to 130 (bushels per acre),” said Loeppky in late September, one day after he started combining the 1,280 acres of corn on his farm.
Depending on the weather, it may take Loeppky 10 days to get the crop in the bin. But if the dry fall continues, Loeppky and dozens of Manitoba corn growers will harvest an excellent crop this year.
Based on Manitoba Agriculture yield data, growers have reported yields of 80 to 130 bu. per acre, with many fields producing 110 to 120 bu. per acre. The average corn yield for Manitoba is around 100 bu. per acre.
The solid yields have surprised a few observers, including Morgan Cott, research agronomist with the Manitoba Corn Growers Association.
“I wasn’t really expecting it to be as high as it is. I was expecting 100 across the board.”
Unlike crops in Ontario and the U.S. Midwest, where corn plants suffered from excess heat and absent rainfall, Manitoba corn growers benefitted from steady rain in late May and early June.
Environment Canada’s weather station in Winnipeg recorded 125 millimetres of precipitation from the middle of May until June 15.
The early rain may have sustained the corn crop during the hot and arid weather of the summer months, said Pam de Rocquigny, a feed grains specialist with Manitoba Agriculture.
“That (rain) helped the crop get established,” de Rocquigny said. “And corn has a real deep-rooting system. So perhaps it was able to access that sub-soil moisture that some of the cool season crops couldn’t access.”
Manitoba growers planted nearly 300,000 acres of corn this year, obliterating the previous record of 225,000 acres.
Given the above average yields and prices much higher than $7 per bu., there is a good chance Manitoba corn acres could set another record next year.
“We’ve had really dry summers two years in a row and (we’re) still getting (decent) yields,” Cott said.
“I’m hoping guys keep on growing it.”