Ontario, Manitoba corn crops need rain

Crop enters key pollination period

manitoba corn
A corn crop in the RM of St. Andrews in Manitoba's Interlake region on July 5, 2018. (Greg Berg photo)

CNS Canada — Corn development in key growing areas of Ontario and Manitoba remains highly variable as the crop nears its yield-determining phase.

“The pollination stage is the critical part of the corn-growing period and I would say probably within the next three weeks we will know what yield is going to look like,” said Markus Haerle, chair of Grain Farmers of Ontario.

Dry weather has gripped many areas of the province for the past two months, making crop development highly variable. He said some fields have received spotty showers but many didn’t receive nearly enough.

“There might already be some impact on yields in certain areas of the province because of drought, but there’s still optimism since we got our rain the past few days.”

Producers in Ontario planted 2.16 million acres of corn this spring, slightly higher than last year’s 2.12 million acres.

Nationally, producers planted 3.63 million acres of corn this yearalso a slight increase from 2016’s 3.56 million.

In Manitoba, the second-largest corn producing province, conditions are similar, with much variability being reported.

Daryl Rex of the National Sunflower Association of Canada is familiar with the corn situation and shares offices with the Manitoba Corn Growers Association. Manitoba corn development is highly variable, he said.

Moisture has been patchy with recent rain delivering amounts ranging from 50 millimetres near the international border to areas where fields barely received another 10 mm.

“The farmers that are fortunate to get the rain, should have, I’d say, a good average crop, whereas I’d expect some fields might be below average,” he said.

Some crops are tasselling down and starting to fill kernels, so timely rain would be especially appreciated now, he said.

Manitoba growers planted 428,000 acres of corn this spring, up from 410,000 acres in 2017 and 364,905 in 2016. Last year, growers in the province produced 50 million bushels of grain corn.

Producers in Ontario harvested 344 million bushels. last year, up from 330 million bushels in 2016.

Haerle said yields this year will depend on the usual factors such as soil type, moisture before planting and showers that have fallen since then, but dryness has persisted in many areas.

“In the middle of the province, which would be Prince Edward County, going north of Toronto, that’s probably the worst stretch where drought is basically going on still.”

Growers also faced problems in southern parts of the province, he said, such as in Essex County where they were forced to delay planting to late May or early June due to wet conditions and now are struggling with lack of moisture.

“Some crop looks just horrible,” he said.

“There’s not much you can do. Basically, pray for rain. Hope that the season is long enough that it can basically recoup out of the stress somewhat.”

Reports from Ontario’s agriculture ministry show maximum temperatures reached for the week of July 11-17 exceeded the 30-year average in 12 out of 12 recording stations and 10 out of 12 stations reported total rainfall since May 1 below the 30-year average.

Elora, at 129.3 mm of rain this year compared to the 206.4 mm average, and Peterborough with 141 mm versus the average of 200.9, are especially lacking in precipitation.

Manitoba Agriculture’s crop report for this week said corn in the southwest has started to show silks, while corn in the central region was silking and pollinating.

Corn futures in Chicago for the September contract were at $3.63 per bushel on Thursday (all figures US$). December corn closed at $3.7675 per bushel and March at $3.85.

— Terry Fries writes for Commodity News Service Canada, a Glacier FarmMedia company specializing in grain and commodity market reporting. Follow CNS Canada at @CNSCanada on Twitter.

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