Ont. corn crop less than 10 per cent harvested

(Resource News International) — Less than 10 per cent of Ontario’s grain corn crop has been harvested so far, with wet conditions continuing to delay the harvest, according to a provincial ag official.

The harvest of silage corn, meanwhile, was nearing completion.

“The harvest of the grain corn crop in Ontario is way behind, with part of that attributed to the late start to planting and to the poor growing season experienced by the crop, particularly the lack of heat units,” said Greg Stewart, a corn specialist for the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs at Guelph.

Of the corn that has been harvested the yields are better than average, he said, but the moisture content is definitely up from where the industry likes to see it.

“The dark cloud hanging over the crop is trying to get the corn that is still out on the fields dry enough to actually harvest,” Stewart said, noting most of the corn has been too wet to run through the combine.

There are “some fairly big hurdles to clear on this crop, and these are all hurdles that will have to be cleared in November, which is not known for its balmy temperatures,” Stewart said, noting that the weather outlooks have not been conducive for harvesting with temperatures also seen turning colder.

In a normal year, he said, producers generally deal with excess moisture in the remaining 30 or 40 per cent of the grain corn harvest, not the remaining 90 per cent.

“A lot of the time, producers are drying down their corn from 19 per cent moisture content to 15 per cent or even from 22 per cent to about 15.5 per cent,” Stewart said. However, much of the grain corn that has come off has a moisture content of between 27 and 32 per cent.

Overwintering

Drying grain is a costly proposition, he said, noting some of the corn fields still standing were believed to have a moisture content of over 32 per cent.

While it’s rare occurrence, producers in Ontario have previously left corn fields to overwinter, he said.

“Most producers are of the mindset that they will harvest the corn regardless of the conditions to avoid damage and yield loss by leaving it out all winter,” he said. 

However, Stewart said, some producers in the province will indeed be challenged to get the crop off before the onset of winter.

A supply/demand production table from the Ontario Corn Producers Association at the beginning of October pegged the province’s 2009-10 corn crop at 261.5 million bushels, down from the 270.1 million seen at the same time the year previous.

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