Hot fall pulls Ontario corn crop to above average

The province’s corn crop averaged 184 bushels per acre last year and soybeans were 44 bu. per acre

Agricorp reports that Ontario’s corn crop yielded better than expected last year at an average of 184 bushels per acre. Soybeans were closer to the 10-year average at 44 bu. per acre.

Agricorp, the provincial crop insurance agency, has some of the most solid crop production numbers in Ontario because its members must report their actual yields. About 75 percent of grains and oilseeds farmers in Ontario have crop insurance.

The results show how resilient corn genetics have become despite challenging weather conditions as those that occurred in 2017.

Crop supply companies in southern Ontario at the Chatham-Kent Farm Show say the average is about right, with some regional variation. Here’s what they said on soybeans:

  • Soybeans were “all over the map,” said Bob Thirlwall, a technical agronomist with DeKalb, who covers the London-to-Windsor area. “I’ve never seen a year where the yields swung so wildly, from 20 bu. per acre to 70 bu., depending on where you were.”
  • Most of the soybeans were challenged in the far southwest of the province, said Scott Vandehogen, seed specialist with AGRIS and Wanstead Co-ops, but there were some small pockets of better yields.
  • The fortunes of soybeans took a turn in August, depending on where you were, said Stephen Denys, director of business management with Maizex. In the south of the province, it was dry for much of the summer, but timely rains arrived during pod fill to create some areas with good yields. Other rainier areas further north had good plant growth, but they were dry in August, which made it a challenge for pod development and a good growth environment for white mould. Maizex had soybean yield pegged at 45 bu. per acre, close to the Agricorp number.
  • During pod counts in August and September, Thirlwall said they’d see top pods that looked like they’d have three soybeans, but only had two. “The potential was there, but they just dried up.”

There were different worries throughout the year that affected the corn crop:

  • There was concern that corn wasn’t developing quickly enough due to lack of heat in August, said Denys. Some people wondered if it would reach black layer. Maizex factored in potential low-test weight and came up with a 164 to 165 bu. per acre estimate. Take out the low-test weight factor and the estimate would be 176. Hot weather in September helped pull the crop to the 184 bu. per acre final number.
  • There were some pockets of lower test weight corn in areas that had large rainfalls and mostly cool weather.
  • “We were really surprised when we got in there with the combine and saw some of these 200 bu. yields in areas that really got hit hard by the drought,” said Thirlwall. “I think part of what we saw was in July during pollination, it was a little cooler than we usually experienced in July.” Corn kernel counts were good, but the expectation was kernel size would be small. The hot, open fall enabled the corn to reach maturity with good yield.

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