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Rain, snow delay Ont. corn harvest

(Resource News International) — The harvest of corn in Ontario may currently be stalled by rain and snow but the quality and size of the crop have turned out much better than anticipated, according to an official with the Ontario Corn Producers Association.

“I would estimate that roughly 75 to 80 per cent of the corn crop in Ontario has been harvested to date,” OCPA general manager Ryan Brown said.

Normally, the harvest of the Ontario corn crop is generally complete by the end of November, but there have been times when the harvest has been extended into December, 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 has frozen enough to support equipment.

Based on the crop harvested to date, he said, the average yield of the crop will also be much improved.

“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,” Brown said. The average provincial corn yield in the fall of 2007 was 121.4 bushels an acre and in the fall of 2006 was 150.5 bushels an acre, the current record high.

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

An estimated 1.7 million to 1.8 million acres of corn 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.

In terms of production, about a month ago OCPA was forecasting Ontario’s 2008-09 corn crop at 270 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 crop year totalled 240 million bushels.

Normally, Ontario consumes more corn on average than it produces, Brown said.

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

As for early 2009 planting predictions, Brown said area planted to corn in the spring will be tied to how much of the winter wheat crop survives the winter and will be plowed under.

The cost of fertilizer will also play a big role, he said, because while there has been some backing off in price, these costs still remain too high.

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

Ontario and Quebec account for roughly 97 per cent of Canada’s total corn production.

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