By Connor Lynch
CHATHAM — Western Ontario is well on its way to having one of its best harvests ever, if not its best.
Most growers west of Toronto are getting at least 200 bushels per acre, said Don Kabbes, general manager of Chatham-based grain marketer Great Lakes Grain. “Yields have been very, very good,” he told Farmers Forum. The trend is stronger the further south you go, with yields starting at well above 200 bu/ac in the Essex and Kent area, and getting gradually weaker but staying above that 200 bu/ac threshold as you go further east and north, he said.
Yields are not likely to change, with corn harvest mostly wrapped up in Western Ontario. Kent County was about 95 per cent done as of Nov. 29, and the rest of Western Ontario was 80 per cent done or more, Kabbes said.
Kabbes said he did a crop tour back in early September, talking about how the corn was going to turn out. “If the crop can finish, it’ll be a very good crop,” he recalled saying. At the time that was a big if; planting had been slow, the crop was behind, and it would take an out-of-the-blue heat wave to salvage the crop. Fortunately, a heat wave hit at the end of September.
Test weights are a bit on the low side, and moisture content is generally high, but neither is a significant issue, he said.
Kent County cash crop farmer Laurent Van Arkel said that by the last week of November, he had only about 20 per cent of his corn harvest left. At that point, the farm was averaging around 200 bu/ac. Normally he’d be finished by this time of year, but a couple of rains have kept him out of the field, he said.
Middlesex County farmer Frank Dietrich finished his corn harvest on Nov. 23, and his farm averaged 230 bu/ac. It’s a bit light on test weight, he said, “but other than that, the yields, I can’t believe it.”
John Geudens, branch manager of Ondrejicka Elevators at Lucan, in Middlesex County, was filling to capacity his 1.8-million bushel operation on Nov. 29 when he said, “Most of the farmers are having their best yields ever,” with typical yields of 225 bu/ac.
Crop farmer and CCA Sharon Vogels at Perth County said that in her area, near Dublin, most farmers are getting at least 200 bu/ac. A lot of it, however, is grade 3 corn. “Everyone’s yields are 10 to 15 per cent higher than last year’s,” she said.
Western Ontario’s five-year average for corn yields is 157.1 bu/ac, and Southern Ontario’s five-year average is 170.1 bu/ac, according to OMAFRA statistics.
Statistics Canada predicted near-record corn yields this year for Ontario, calling for 169.5 bu/ac. Many farmers were skeptical of that prediction.