WELLINGTON — Southwestern Ontario farmers are seeing solid corn yields, though not a record bin buster. The crop also coincides with the biggest corn harvest ever recorded in the United States — which is tempering prices — and an upward blip in vomitoxin levels in some areas.
Crop farmer Shawn Helmuth estimated getting an average yield this year at his Palmerston-area farm, in Wellington County, along with good quality, solid test weights and no vomitoxin.
Helmuth surmised that his corn lost its top-end potential because of lower than average sunlight received in August. “But really, overall, I’m happy with it considering the year we had,” he said, noting that his area avoided elevated vomitoxin levels.
Vomitoxin — also known as ‘DON’ — is a byproduct of gibberella mould. Corn is discounted when testing shows DON levels in excess of 3 parts per million.
AGRIS Coop agronomist Dale Cowan said the presence of DON this year is “nowhere near as bad” as it was in 2018 when record discounts were applied to the Southwestern Ontario crop.
He said the issue is “very manageable” and “not widespread” this year. A farm’s likelihood of having DON depended on the amount of rain received and the type of soil found on the farm, with problems more likely on clay ground, Cowan said. Farms closer to the shore of the Great Lakes, with accompanying fog and heavier dews, are more at risk of infection by fungi like gibberella and tar spot, he said, especially in a year of higher moisture. “When you get almost 40 inches of rain since planting — as some areas did — that’s never good.”
Overall, he estimated Southwestern Ontario corn yields as “slightly above average. I’m not so sure we have a yield record, but it is a good crop of corn.”
Lambton County cash cropper Brad Langstaff said he harvested a little over 200 bu/ac from his corn fields, and said growers in his area all seem to be in the 200 to 230 bu/ac range.
“We didn’t spray fungicide, so I do believe we gave up some yield, but our corn is considerably drier than some of the corn out there that’s been sprayed,” Langstaff said.
He reported no issues with DON. “We had a few loads creep up to 3 parts per million, but nothing deductible.” Further to the south, in the Blenheim area of Chatham-Kent, some producers have had loads rejected because of DON, he said.
In Eastern Ontario, Maizeing Acres owner Peter Archer reported “very strong” yields and a good quality corn crop. “Everybody’s pretty happy. They’re just not happy with the price.”
Archer added, “At this point, we’ve got to figure out, who’s going to own (buy) this corn because the export market is just not stepping up for it.”
Earlier this summer, farms.com’s Great Ontario Yield Tour projected record average corn yields of 203 bu/ac in the province.
According to AgriCorp, Ontario corn producers enrolled in the crop insurance program yielded an average 184 bu/ac in 2022, down from a record 200 bu/ac set in 2021. The 10-year average is 179 bu/ac.