Manitoba corn acres expected to be ‘down or flat’

(FIle photo by Allan Dawson)

CNS Canada — A mixture of extremely wet conditions in 2014 and a projected dry outlook for southwestern Manitoba are leading one corn expert to predict fewer corn acres in the province in 2015.

“The southwest was wet, wet, wet and now they’re expecting to be dry, dry, dry. Neither of those conditions is great for corn,” said Morgan Cott, agronomist for the Manitoba Corn Growers Association.

Producers may fill those acres with wheat, oats, or other grasses, she added. It likely won’t be soybeans — often already part of the same rotation as corn.

The short season of 2014 made it tough for many producers to produce a top-notch crop and it may discourage others from even trying, she said.

“Logistically it may not make sense if they don’t have shorter-season hybrids available to them,” she noted, adding some good hybrid varieties were making their way onto the market.

“Not as sexy”

She also pointed out corn growers had a couple of “long” seasons where very little drying of the grain had to be done. It may have convinced some that such seasons would be the norm, when in fact, they were the exception.

“We’re not quite there yet; we do need shorter-season hybrids,” she said.

Roughly a quarter of a million corn acres were put into Western Canada last year, according to Cott, who doubted we’d see so much this season.

“If there’s an increase, I wouldn’t expect it to be great,” she said, noting most seed companies she talked to have also expected acres to be down.

“I think everybody is getting more realistic about the potential of corn and not jumping into it; it’s not looking quite as sexy as it did the past couple of years,” said Cott, adding the average yield was 113 bushels an acre.

It could help corn growers this year if snow leaves the fields by mid-April, she added. “There might be some corn planted by the first week of May for a change.”

— Dave Sims writes for Commodity News Service Canada, a Winnipeg company specializing in grain and commodity market reporting.

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