CNS Canada — Many crops have seen delayed harvest in Manitoba this year, and grain corn is no exception. Only a few fields have been harvested so far, with more earlier-seeded crops expected to start coming off the fields next week.
“A lot of it has reached maturity, so it’s just drying down to moisture contents that producers are willing to take it off at,” said Pam de Rocquigny, cereal crops specialist with Manitoba, Agriculture, Food and Rural Development at Carman.
“Most corn requires artificial drying to bring it down to safe storage moisture content, so they try to leave it out in the field to reach better moisture content so it doesn’t require as much cost to dry it down,” she added.
Many fields in central Manitoba, where a lot of the province’s corn is grown, were also waiting for killing frosts to help dry things down. There were some good killing-frost temperatures seen in that region this week, which should help get harvest rolling, de Rocquigny said.
The timing of the harvest is later than in previous years, as activities have started as early as September in the past, but it is not “abnormal,” she said.
The later harvest time isn’t as convenient for farmers, as it increases the chances of weather-related delays, but it’s not necessarily bad for the crop. The days are also shorter at this time of year, which means farmers won’t be out for as many hours per day as in September.
“But corn is one of those crops where the progress, how much you take off a day, is kind of dependent on how much you can artificially dry a day,” de Rocquigny noted.
Because the harvest isn’t in full swing yet, it’s too hard to know what quality will be like for this year’s crop.
“What impact the (September) frost had in terms of the grain filling process and what impact it will have on the bushel weight, it remains to be seen,” said de Rocquigny. “We will have to wait until we get further into harvest to see what the impact is.”
The ideal bushel weight, or test weight, for corn is around 56 pounds, she said, adding that quality didn’t seem to be a big concern for farmers at this point.
The lack of harvest progress is also causing some uncertainty about the size of the Manitoba corn crop. Estimates from Statistics Canada last Friday (Oct. 3) called for 721,400 tonnes in 2014-15, down from 1.22 million in 2013-14.
— Terryn Shiells writes for Commodity News Service Canada, a Winnipeg company specializing in grain and commodity market reporting.