By Connor Lynch
Ontario is on track to crush the previous average yield corn record of 170.6 bushels per acre set in 2015.
Some Western Ontario counties could break the 200-bushel per acre corn yield ceiling.
When all the corn has been counted from last year’s harvest, the province will likely see a 185 bu/ac overall yield average, said Real Agriculture agronomist Peter Johnson.
Some counties will be looking at 190 bu/ac yields or higher, Johnson said, adding that Perth, Oxford, and Middlesex counties could see averages hit 200 bu/ac.
That makes 2017 a serious boost to Western Ontario’s average yields. Most counties west of Toronto averaged 160 bu/ac or less over the last three years. Only 10 of 23 counties averaged higher.
Perth, Oxford, and Middlesex historically have strong yields. This year would still be a significant boost for counties that averaged 168.9 bu/ac, 173.5 bu/ac, and 173.8 bu/ac over the last three years respectively.
Ondrejicka Elevators’ branch manager John Geudens at Middlesex County told Farmers Forum that yields at his 1.8-million bushel bin averaged 225 bu/ac.
“Most of the farmers around here were saying, ‘if you’d have given me a 150 bu/ac crop on Sept. 1, I would’ve sold it right out of the field.’ We’re still trying to figure out where it all came from.”
Agricorp also pegged Ontario’s corn yield on average at 185 bu/ac, though Agricorp’s yield averages tend to be higher than Statistics Canada’s or OMAFRA’s.
The strong finish to Ontario’s corn crop would’ve been a bad joke back at the end of August. Some growers were concerned there’d be no crop at all, and Ontario came dangerously close to that, Johnson said. Plenty of corn harvested was Grade 3 and 4, and in a region in the Dundalk Highlands, which has the shortest growing season of anywhere in the province, there was corn harvested at 43 per cent moisture and sample grade, said Johnson.
The lack of extremely hot days in Ontario certainly helped the crop as well. Corn likes the heat up until about 32 C, which Ontario mostly avoided, even during the September heat wave.
Yields were astounding to agronomists and farmers alike. Early-planted crops proved to be absolutely crucial, said Johnson. It’s something that agronomists often stress, but in some years, farmers can get away with a somewhat later-planted crop. “This year really drove it home. If you can plant early, plant early,” Johnson said.
But it was also a year of upending common wisdom. “We’ve always said that if your corn crop is late (developing), it won’t be a big corn crop. This year clearly blew that accepted premise out of the water. It ain’t over ‘til it’s over. Amazing things can happen.”