EASTERN ONTARIO — The combines made quick progress on Eastern Ontario’s bountiful cornfields in mid-November.
As heaped-up gravity wagons arrived in a tireless stream at Rutters Elevators outside Chesterville, Michael Aube suggested yields were at least close to the record year of 2015. “It’s a tremendous corn crop,” said Aube. “We had timely rains in July, and that beautiful weather, it really panned out good…. All in all, a pretty good year, and we’ll count our blessings at Christmas.”
Agricorp, Ontario’s crop insurance agency, reported a provincial average yield of 170.6 bu/ac in 2015 and 177.9 bu/ac in Eastern Ontario.
Aube and other producers also noted this year’s great test weights as the corn was coming off the field. At the wheel of his Claas combine on a sunny afternoon east of Winchester, custom operator Tim Jaquemet said he was getting solid test weights of between 67 and 72 kilograms per hectolitre and yields of 200 to 220 bushels per acre.
Crop consultant Gilles Quesnel suggested the majority of Eastern Ontario counties — though not all — were on track for a record corn harvest. “It really depends on the region,” he said. “The main factor is when the rain came. It will be county by county.”
Quesnel said the crop benefited from an early start, good emergence with fewer plants lost, timely rain for pollination, and a temperate, “open fall” that never seemed to let up. September didn’t see the usual stretch of nights where the mercury dips into the single digits, nor did a killing frost arrive until late in October. Quesnel also noted that 300 heat units reached the fields of Eastern Ontario in October alone.
Cash-cropper and dairy farmer Felix Von Gunten said that his operation, Sybrenson Farms, enjoyed record yields in both soybeans and corn. But he placed the extra revenue alongside the anticipated challenges of next season. “Really good yields this year, but we’re going to need it for next year,” Von Gunten said, “when input costs are supposed to be 35 to 40 % higher.”
In Hastings County, dairy farmer Morgan McMillan reported “really good corn yields” of about 200 bu/ac at Kingsway Farms. The mark was “a little above average” for the operation, he said.
Justin Velthuis in Metcalfe said his family’s dairy farm pulled in 240 bu/ac on its high-moisture corn harvest — a good gauge of what he expected on the dry corn harvest that would follow. “It’s a good crop,” he simply said, when asked if it might be a record.
In Morrisburg, Warren Schneckenburger anticipated recording his second-best corn yield this year, trailing closely the “exceptional” harvest of 2015. If not for scant rainfall received in his neighbourhood through August, “we would have absolutely had a record corn crop,” Schneckenburger said. “The quality is fantastic.”