By Owen Roberts, FCC Express
This harvest season, impressive corn yields averaging around 200 bushels an acre have been seen by many Ontario producers. But they’re witnessing wild swings, even in the same field, to reach that average, says one expert.
Dale Cowan, senior agronomist with AGRIS and Wanstead Co-ops, says in some clay-loam mix fields, yields have soared to as high as 280 bushels in looser loam soil. But they plummeted to about 100 bushels on the hard clay portions with poor drainage.
Compaction on clay is a particular problem this year. Anxious growers got on fields when they saw a break in the wet spring – but by Cowan’s count, they were a day or two early. That was enough to cause the clay to compact more than usual, ultimately limiting the yields of corn planted into that hard clay.
“The yield averages are a positive outcome, even though corn on clay didn’t do very well,” Cowan says. “But the average has some customers scratching their heads, reading their yield monitors and seeing such high and low numbers in the same field. It’s an intriguing situation.”
Overall, the industry is predicting a record corn harvest, based on plantings of more than two million acres – the most on record.
One reason for the big spike is because so little wheat was planted in the wet fall last year. Farmers needed a crop, and corn was a logical choice. Next spring, it’s expected farmers will harvest more than one million acres of wheat, up appreciably from this year’s 650,000 aces.
Some of that wheat acreage will have to come from soybeans, which is expected to top out this year at two million acres. But with wheat prices a little depressed, and corn prices going strong, expect to see slightly more corn, and fewer soybeans.