By Connor Lynch
TILLSONBURG — The Western Ontario corn crop was turning out better than anyone expected last month, with growers either marveling at an average or better than average and, in some cases, record yields.
Cash crop farmer and elevator operator Bruce Court, who runs Court Farms just south of Tillsonburg, was about 60 per cent done harvest by Nov. 22. “I think it’s about as good as we could’ve expected,” he said, with record yields of good quality corn rolling in. His crops went into sandier soil, not too late, and the summer brought plenty of rain to his farm. “Snow (in the fall)dampened things for a few days, but other than that, (harvest has) been going pretty good.”
Not all farmers were so lucky, but few were complaining about how things turned out. Agronomist Dale Cowan said Southwestern Ontario was seeing average or above yields, with some farmers hitting record highs. “Yields are excellent,” in a region where some growers have 225 bu/ac as their on-farm average, he said.
Great Lakes Grain, in its most recent, September predictions, pegged Southwestern and Western Ontario yields at about 164 bushels/acre on average, one bu/ac below last year’s yields. The five year average is 169 bu/ac.
Harvest conditions were a bit touch and go, said Cowan, with snow lingering in fields and high moisture slowing dryer speeds, adding to the frustration for farmers. “You know it’s a rough year when 2019 becomes a verb,” he said. “I’ve been 2019’d” has been a common lament amongst growers. Unexpectedly high yields notwithstanding, it’s been a difficult year to get the crop in and out of the ground.
Test weight is the main concern with the crop itself, with most of the corn coming in at grade two. That’s added a bit of extra strain to drying capacity, as lower test weight corn takes longer to dry, exacerbating the delays caused by moist corn and the propane shortage. In Perth County, Mitchell elevator operator and farmer Ron Van Der Burgt said it was amazing that “we got a crop at all,” let alone such a substantial one. Farmers were expecting, at the very least, below average yields, around 170 bu/ac, he said. But yields have been around 185 bu/ac and above, with harvest about half done by Nov. 25. “Minds were set on a very poor crop.”
WESTERN ONTARIO: Corn yields expectedly late, unexpectedly high
By Connor Lynch