Corn harvest headaches
By Brandy Harrison
RUSSELL Trading bed for the combine cab, Robert Hamilton caught a few zs between loads, confident it wouldnt be the last late night race to get the corn done before the snow falls.
“I found a warm bed for a few minutes,” said the Russell dairy and crop farmer, whose corn harvest was about two weeks behind and half done by Nov. 25. He wasnt convinced stalks could stand through winter.
Bushel weight was light but cobs filled to the end and yields were average to above average, between 200 and 240 bushels per acre. The mid-September frost was the killer, said Hamilton. A wind storm that flattened some of Hamiltons corn on Nov. 24 was the last straw after a wet spring and cool summer. “We were all worried about the terrible price but its the sunshine at the end of the tunnel.”
About five to 15 per cent of corn was left across Eastern Ontario by Nov. 26, said Scott Banks, an OMAFRA crop specialist based in Kemptville.
A late start and early frost slowed maturity, but total heat units werent far off average. Grade is anywhere from two to sample and yields are between 130 and 160 bu/ac, a mixed bag that could add up to an average year, said Banks.
Half done and staring down decent grades and above-average yields, Ameliasburgh crop farmer Mark McFaul felt lucky for the timely rains on his usually over-dry fields.
“It was a challenge, but you dont have to go far to see guys worse off than we are,” said McFaul.
Near Douglas, Scott Dick was still waiting on Nov. 25. Late spring, cool weather, and a frost that hit corn at half milk line, pulled down grade and could take 10 to 15 per cent off the top of what might have been above-average yields, he said.
“There is no point in drying corn like that. You just shrink it down to nothing and its not good corn to begin with,” said Dick, who hoped some corn could overwinter to air dry and bump up grade.
With 18 days of rain in May holding up planting three days was the longest dry spell Lansdowne crop farmer George Webster was still struggling to finish soybeans on Nov. 24.
“It never quit. A lot of ugly planting was done and it showed up at harvest,” he said.
Half of his planned corn acreage was planted to soybeans and while hed heard yield swings from 80 to 200 bu/ac, theres little doubt moisture is high and bushel weight is light.
“I got only 100 acres in and about 30 of that may not make grade. Its just garbage. For the rest of it, Ill be lucky to get Grade 4,” said Webster. “We havent had a bad year in 12 years and we were overdue for one. I still dont like it.”