Manitoba corn appears headed for lower yields

Manitoba’s corn crop harvest is getting underway earlier than expected, which could point to potential yield problems.

While it’s too early to provide firm yield estimates, Morgan Cott, field agronomist for the Manitoba Corn Growers Association, said some high moisture corn was already harvested in mid-September, and regular grain corn harvest got underway last week.

“That’s a lot earlier than normal. They estimate about five per cent of it is done so far, with lower yields than we had hoped for.”

“(It) definitely finished a little too early.”

The high heat this summer caused kernel abortions and that is bound to affect the finished yield, she said. Although it is too early to tell the extent of the damage or if weights will be off.

“It looks good on top, but I think it will most likely be that the yield is affected. But it will take some time to find out if it is going to be a little bit light.”

On the positive side, it appears mould will not present a serious issue for most growers.

The crop got off to a good start this year, especially considering the dry conditions at seeding. Timely rain boosted the crop along and it was growing well until mid-July. Then the weather turned too hot and too dry and the pollination period was shorter than usual, just at the time when the number of kernels set is largely determined.

“Because the heat was so high, it caused abortion in the kernels so that really, obviously is affecting yield,” said Cott.

Meanwhile, Manitoba growers have completed the harvest of most silage corn. Most growers started to take that off at the beginning of September.

Cott said there is more silage corn that expected because the drought and hay shortage situation that exists in the province prompted more producers to take more corn for silage. However, she said she didn’t have final acreage numbers yet.

Bids for current crop corn, delivered, were listed at C$3.66 to C43.92 per bushel in North Dakota, or US$2.82 to US$3.02 per bushel. Average high and lows for the current crop for the year are at US$2.38 to US$3.63 to bushel, based in North Dakota.

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