November 24, 2008

Ontario corn harvest delayed; yields could hit a record


Ontario's corn harvest has been stalled by rain and snow, but the size and quality of the crop have turned out much better than expected, said official with the Ontario Corn Producers Association, or OCPA.


"Right now, based on indications from producers, corn yields have been averaging as high as 200 bushels an acre, which should be enough to boost the provincial average above the record," said OCPA general manager Ryan Brown.


The current record is an average of 150.5 bushels an acre, recorded in the fall of 2006. The average provincial corn yield in the fall of 2007 was 121.4 bushels an acre.


Brown estimated that 75 percent to 85 percent of Ontario's corn crop has been harvested.


Normally, Ontario's corn harvest is complete by the end of November, but it has extended into December at times, Brown said.


"This appears to be one of those times," he said, noting that producers who have crop left to be harvested will be back in the fields as soon as the ground is frozen enough to support equipment.


The quality of the corn harvested was also seen good, Brown said.


An estimated 1.70 million to 1.80 million acres were expected to be harvested in the fall of 2008, Brown said. This would be down slightly from the 2.06 million acres harvested in the spring of 2007.


About a month ago, the OCPA was forecasting Ontario's 2008-09 (September-August) corn crop at 270.0 million bushels based on early yield returns. Now, with the yield potential well above expectations, corn production in the province could be as high as 360 million bushels, Brown estimated.


Production of corn in Ontario during the 2007-08 (September-August) crop year totalled 240.0 million bushels.


Brown said Ontario normally consumes more corn than it produces.


"The province generally needs about 300 million bushels in order to meet annual domestic consumption requirements," Brown said. "That normally means importing US corn."


Brown said seeded area to corn in the spring will be tied to how much of the winter wheat crop survives the winter and will be plowed under.


He said the cost of fertilizer will also play a big role.


"The price of corn heading into spring will also be a determining factor," he said.


Ontario and Quebec account for roughly 97 percent of Canada's total corn production.

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