Baker Colony near MacGregor won the 2015 Manitoba Corn Growers Association’s corn competition with a yield of 241.05 bushels per acre.
That beat the late Lorne Loeppky’s winning yield of 226.16 in 2014, but it’s still under the record 271.69 bushels an acre set by Baker Colony in 2013.
Coincidently average Manitoba corn yields set a record in 2013 of 133 bushels an acre. But a new provincial record — 136 — was set in 2015.
“A number of things work together,” Baker Colony farm manager Mack Waldner said in an interview after the competition results were released Feb. 10 at the CropConnect banquet in Winnipeg. “Soil fertility, good placement of seed, weed control, a good fertilizer plan and you try and work from there and see what your soil responds to. We were fortunate to have enough rain. Having good seed is key.”
So is plant population. The colony, which has been growing grain corn for about 30 years, has upped its plant population to between 32,000 and 34,000 per acre from 26,000, Waldner said.
“That was the biggest change to yield,” he added. “That made the biggest difference in the years I’ve been working with it.”
The winning variety was 2250 corn heat unit Pioneer P7958AM. The variety accounted for about half the corn acres on the colony in 2015.
“It was the best yield we’ve ever had,” averaging about 150 bushels an acre across the farm, Waldner said.
Contestants are allowed to select corn from two 50 foot rows. The corn is hand picked. And while the result is a higher yield than would occur if the corn was combined and collected from a larger area, it shows corn’s yield potential.
Thanks to better genetics and improving agronomics Manitoba corn yields, on average, are increasing. The 2015 provincial average yield of 136 bushels an acre was up 21 per cent from 2014’s 113.
“We’re at 240 (bushels an acre in the corn competition) now, we’ve had 270 in past, I’m looking for 300,” Waldner said.
Manitoba corn yields are catching up to those in the United States, he said. Last year U.S. corn yields averaged 169 bushels an acre versus 136 in Manitoba, he noted.
“We’re getting close and the we’re getting better genetics,” Waldner said. (The average corn belt yield was about 10 bushels an acre higher than the U.S. average.)
Manitoba corn acreage was down 15 per cent to 205,071 acres last year, but still well above the 10-year average of 192,000. And the crop is spreading to less traditional areas in the east and west of the province.
R & S Farms of Arden placed second in the competition with a yield of 219.28 bushels an acre.
Durmads Farms of Boissevain and Bangert Farms of Beausejour placed ninth and 12th, respectively, with yields of 193.74 and 191.29 bushels an acre.
Baker Colony received $1,000 from Dupont Pioneer, a wall plaque and name on the competition trophy.
Second place winner R & S Farms received $500 and a wall plaque and third place winner Thiessen Acres of Morden received $250 and a wall plaque.
Top 10 winners of Manitoba Corn Growers Association’s 2015 corn growing competition
- Baker Colony, MacGregor, Pioneer P7958AM, 241.05 bushels an acre
- R & S Farms Ltd., Arden, Legend LR9474VT2PRIB, 219.28
- Thiessen Acres Ltd., Morden, Pioneer 39V07, 211.68
- 4A Farms, Rosenfeld, Pioneer P7632AM, 210.6
- Blumengart Colony, Pioneer, P7958AM, 205.02
- Wynd River Farm Ltd., Cypress River, Pioneer P7632AM, 201.36
- Krahn Agri Farms Ltd., Carman, Thunder TH7677, 200.06
- Wesmar Farms Ltd., Altona, Thunder TH7578, 194.31
- Durmads Farms Ltd., Boissevain, DeKalb DKC26-28,193.74
- Veldman Farms, Carman, Thunder TH7677, 193.57