By Tom Collins
PORT BURWELL — At one point this summer Arpad Pasztor was worried about his 500 acres of corn.
His area had a dry spell for three weeks in July. But some timely rains near the end of the month, when the corn was starting to flower, saved the crop and the Port Burwell farmer is now expecting an above-average yield.
“It kind of saved our butts,” he said. “We got luckier than hell, let’s put it that way. In our particular area, the worst-case scenario would be average.”
While Western Ontario yields look to be variable, they are generally better than most of the province. Farmers in Prince Edward County are saying they would be happy with 100 bushels per acre, with the Niagara region being hit even harder.
“It seems like about 10 or 15 miles east of us, the crops are terrible,” said Pasztor. “They didn’t get any rain at all, especially in the Delhi area.”
Dave McEachren, who farms at Glencoe in Middlesex County, said his area never had any issues with lack of moisture at any point this growing season. He expects plenty of yields around 170 to 180 bu/ac, with some farmers believing yields could be as high as 220 bu/ac.
The five-year average is 168 bu/ac for Southern Ontario and 155 bu/ac for Western Ontario.
More problematic is price. It’s taken a nosedive this summer on reports of an anticipated world-record crop. The low price of new corn at Chatham-Kent Elevator closed at $4.01 on Aug. 31. The summer high closing price was $5.19 on June 17. Adding insult to injury, the United States has had excellent weather and the United States Department of Agriculture is anticipating a record 15.15-billion bushels of corn. The previous high was 14.2-billion bushels in 2014.
“Any time commodity prices are this low, you have to get some significant yields to be above that break-even point,” said McEachren. “So it’s nice we’re in good shape. But if I have some fields that fall just at average or a little below average, they might not be profitable acres with the commodity price where it is.”