Corn growers in Alberta are hoping for a long autumn so crops can reach full maturity and feed value.
Nicole Rasmussen, agronomist with Corteva Pioneer, said Sept. 12 that it’s an issue across the province.
“The general consensus is that the corn crop across most of Alberta is behind schedule. We’re probably anywhere from seven days to 15 or 20 days late depending on where you are in the province. The corn crop is that far behind,” she said while examining corn in a southern Alberta field.
“We need two more good weeks of fall before a killing frost hits (and) temperatures to stay at least 10 to 20 C during the day would be best case and not below 5 C at night.”
Days after her assessment, temperatures were within those boundaries, at least in southern Alberta. A cool start to the growing season, prolonged cloudy periods and plenty of rain in the north caused slow corn crop progress.
Rasmussen said many growers assume this summer was cooler than normal but records indicate it was actually within the five-year average in terms of heat units. And if the weather holds, a good harvest remains possible.
“There’s a good crop in the field. If it has the time to finish there’s a tremendous corn crop out there this year,” said Rasmussen.
A killing frost causes immediate drydown and unless the crop is harvested immediately after that frost, it can become too dry to properly ensile. Frost increases dry matter content. As well, kernels dry and harden more rapidly when subjected to frost and need processing before being fed to cattle.