By Connor Lynch
Ontario’s remarkable corn crop has shattered a long-held truth about corn and reminded farmers of the old adage: It ain’t over ‘til it’s over.
As of late December, Ontario was on track for 180 bushel per acre average corn yield, a stunning development and one that no farmer would’ve believed in August, said Real Agriculture agronomist Peter Johnson. That projected yield forecast would shatter the Ontario yield record of 170.6 bu/ac set in 2015.
Most growers in Eastern Ontario are not so lucky but are still impressed with they are getting. They can expect an average to above average yields, said independent agronomist Gilles Quesnel. Eastern Ontario’s five-year average for corn yields is 152.7 bu/ac.
Johnson told Farmers Forum that by Dec. 21, with 85 per cent of the corn crop accounted for, producers were already averaging 185 bu/ac and even if the last of the crop was dismal, it would be virtually impossible for that number to fall below 180 bu/ac.
On Dec. 20, Agricorp reported its final 2017 Ontario yield average at 186 bu/ac, though Agricorp’s reported yields tend to be higher than what OMAFRA and Statistics Canada report.
Some producers came extremely close to not having a crop at all. Plenty of corn in Eastern Ontario is Grade 3 and 4, and there’s even some Grade 5 corn, Johnson said. In Southwestern Ontario, in the Dundalk Highlands, which has the shortest growing season in the province, corn was harvested at 43 per cent moisture and was sample grade, he said.
The lack of extremely hot days likely played a factor in yields as well, said Johnson.
Early planting was a huge factor and a significant reminder to farmers of its importance, Johnson said. “Some years you can get away with (late planting). Years like last year, you can lose 30 bu/ac or 40 bu/ac of yield pretty quickly if you miss that planting window. If you can plant early, plant early.”
There was an old rule of thumb that a late crop is never a big crop, said Johnson. “Last year clearly blew that accepted premise right out of the water. It ain’t over ‘til it’s over. Amazing things can happen.”