Growth in Manitoba corn acres hindered by seed shortage

Corn acreage expansion in Manitoba has hit a setback. It is still expected to increase for 2013 but by less than previously forecast due to seed shortages, say dealers.

For example, NorthStar Genetics Manitoba has already booked its Maisex corn sales for next spring.

“We were basically sold out from the time we had access to our allocation, so there’s a definite shortage of corn seed this year,” said Ray Wytinck, general manager of NorthStar.

Growers who want a seed variety suitable for their area may not be able to buy it, so the shortage will restrict corn acre expansion in Manitoba.

“The bottom line, there isn’t enough supply to meet demand,” Wytinck said.

“I’m hearing it across the board that there isn’t any more corn (seed) available. So I think it is going to limit the amount of acres in Manitoba.”

Based on Manitoba Agricultural Services Corp. statistics, producers insured 273,000 acres of corn in 2012, a record for the province.

Scott McIntosh, an account manager for Pioneer Hi-Bred in Carman, Man., said his company is also sold out of certain corn varieties. Like Wytinck, he said the shortage will limit corn expansion, but acres should increase by 10 to 15 percent in 2013.

Seed dealers in Manitoba are short on corn seed because most companies produce seed in Ontario. The drought in parts of Ontario this summer cut into corn yields, including the production of seed, said Les Carriere, district sales manger for Hyland Seeds in Carman.

“Some (companies) got caught up in the dry weather we had and production didn’t pan out like it should have. They were forced to cut back supply.”

The lack of supply has combined with increased demand, sparked by above average yields and high corn prices, to cause the shortage. In general, there isn’t sufficient corn seed for what Carriere described as the “northern tier genetics,” needed in Manitoba and Saskatchewan.

Supplies of varieties that need 2,000 to 2,300 corn heat units during the growing season are “very, very tight.”

“Our shorter genetics … they’re in great demand because they are an earlier maturing variety and have a dry down that makes things more manageable for producers.”

Producers may not be able to acquire the corn seed they want but Carriere still thinks acres will rise in Manitoba next year.

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