By Connor Lynch
CHATHAM-KENT — Vomitoxin has been the cloud hanging over this year’s corn crop, a painful blow to producers after predictions of record crops. For many producers, harvest has been a stop-and-start slog, with periodic rain or snow clogging fields and keeping boots off the ground.
Some producers are in for record or near record-yields, but it’s no more uniform than the vomitoxin reports scattered across the province. General Manager of Great Lakes Grains elevator at Chatham-Kent Don Kabbes said that, as of Nov. 27, harvest was only about 60 per cent complete. Essex County in particular was the laggard, he said, and it looks like one of the major areas of concern for vomitoxin to boot.
So far, yields are very good he said, but added that the vom issue might mean producers don’t hit the record Great Lakes Grains was predicting. “There will be some acres that don’t get harvested due to vom. It’s hard to say where that final yield will be.”
Ontario’s record average yield was 170.6 bu/ac set in 2015. Southern Ontario’s record yield is 179 bu/ac, while Western Ontario’s record is 166.9 bu/ac, both set in 2017.
Farther north into Perth County, elevator operator Ron Van Der Burgt of V.D.B. Grains said that yields were average to above-average, in the 180 bushel per acre range. Vomitoxin was definitely an issue, but his elevator didn’t have to turn any corn away, since they’d found a market for some higher vom corn. “We’re pretty confident that the marketplace as a whole will find a home for a lot of this high vom corn.”
And the corn’s coming in heavy; test weights are consistently high, and moisture is consistently low between 18 and 22 per cent, he said.
Wellington County cash crop farmer Shawn Helmuth harvested 4,500 acres of corn, soybeans and wheat and was quite pleased with his corn. Yields have been around 200 bu/ac, with no vomitoxin issues. Most farmers in his area seem to be in a similar position, though there are spotty reports of vom. Helmuth’s father had part of a field testing at 11 ppm. But the clean corn has been heavy, coming in at grade 2, and moisture has stayed below 26 per cent, fairly low for the area.
Brant County beef and cash crop farmer Mark Eddy was also having good yields, though also considerably more trouble with vom. “Yields area really good; some of our best ever. Except that there’s vomitoxin in it.” Fortunately on his farm, vomitoxin was the exception rather than the rule, although some of his fields tested as high as 6.3 ppm. That’s not high enough for outright rejection but it does mean a steep discount at the elevator.