Hope for Ontario’s harvest at the mercy of Mother Nature

Cobs from plants emerging on day 1, 3, and 5. Photo Credit: Bern Tobin

After being at Canada’s Outdoor Farm Show this week, it’s very clear that the fate of farmers’ profitability rests firmly in the hands of Mother Nature.

Starting in 2018, Mother Nature has not exactly been on friendly terms with farmers. The August rains brought significant DON issues to the corn crop, fall and winter conditions caused significant winter kill on the winter wheat and hay crops, with thousands of acres ripped up, and 2019 spring planting was pushed back to early summer due to nearly daily downpours.

Now, as the calendar flips to fall, farmers need real cooperation from the weather to keep a hard frost at bay until at least mid-October. According to agronomist, Peter Johnson, some growers might need frost-free weather until Halloween in order to achieve corn maturity.

This week on RealAg Radio, Dekalb agronomist Bob Thirwall mentioned that much of the corn is three weeks behind schedule. “The corn in the 3000 CHU heat unit range is just starting to dent and when it achieves full dent it is still thirty days until black layer.”

Aaron Stevanus of PRIDE Seeds says that, “Ultimately the weather is totally out of your control so its sometimes best to just focus on what you can control.”

Considering all of the concern over achieving black layer, the crop does not look like a loser if the weather cooperates.  There is yield in this Ontario corn crop but it is totally a question of time.

Thirwall adds that many growers have said to him during the farm show that, “I never would have thought when I was on the planting tractor in late May and early June that the corn crop would look this good on September 11th.”

It has been twelve months of agronomic adversity in Ontario — I think it’s time that Mother Nature do us a solid and keep the frost away until November 1. She has punished growers enough.

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