Great Lakes Grain tour: crops need time to mature

There is potential in the corn crop if it gets to maturity

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The big conclusion from Great Lakes Grain’s 2019 crop tour is no surprise — the corn and soybean crops need more time.

But if the frost holds off there’s potential for decent yields in some fields, says Don Kabbes, general manager of Great Lakes Grain.

Why it matters: Understanding the potential yield on farms can give farmers a chance to prepare for the coming harvest and for making next year’s planting decisions.

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About 500 corn and 450 soybean fields were evaluated by Great Lakes Grain and FS Cooperatives staff across Ontario, including some in eastern Ontario and one in the New Liskeard area.

The results say that average corn yield could be 164 bushels per acre and soybean yield 40.2 bushels per acre. Those are both down from last year’s yield.

“Overall kernel counts and population, are pretty good,” says Kabbes about the corn crop. Population, cob size and kernel counts are similar to the tour’s 2018 number. They used a reduced bushel weight because of the challenges with this year’s growing conditions. The corn crop was 93 per cent dented on the tour in 2018, but this year it was 22 per cent dented. Fifteen per cent was in the blister stage this year, which they’ve never seen in previous tours.

Soybean pod counts, along with bean size and beans per pod are down this year, however, and Kabbes has more concern about the soybean crop coming to harvest readiness before frost than corn.

There are lots of lower-yielding spots in fields which could reduce yield. Kabbes says farmers cut back on inputs such as fungicides this year because of timing and concerns about the crop reaching maturity in time.

“Given what this crop’s come through, late planting, relatively poor conditions, it’s looking relatively good, surprisingly,” he said during an interview at Canada’s Outdoor Farm Show.

The company says the tour showed potential harvest challenges involving weeds because spring conditions prevented timely herbicide application.

Jeff Sherman, a commodity risk consultant with Mid-Co Commodities in Des Moines was also at the FS Cooperatives display at Canada’s Outdoor Farm Show.

He says the American crop is similar to Ontario’s, with an open fall needed to bring it to harvest.

If the weather stays good, then he says the corn crop there could be closer to the USDA average that people think is high.

Soybeans are more at risk with weather challenges than corn, he says.

His biggest concern is markets in 2020, when he says he could see American farmers planting 94 to 95 million acres of corn, an increase of four to five million acres.

“That’s a very ugly scenario,” he said, as that would create a significant oversupply in the corn market.

About the author


John Greig

John Greig has spent his career in agriculture journalism and communications. He lives on a farm near Ailsa Craig, Ontario. Contact John at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @jgreig



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