It’s a three-peat for Baker Colony.
The Hutterite Brethren community near MacGregor, Man., has won the Manitoba Corn Growers Association’s corn yield competition for the third time in as many years with a record 306.4 bushels an acre in 2017, beating its own record of 274.69 set in 2016.
The colony won with DuPont Pioneer’s P8387AM variety grown in 30-inch rows.
That’s not the only broken record. This latest win is the sixth for Baker Colony, making it the winningest entrant in the competition that has run every year since 1971, except 2004 because of a province-wide corn crop failure.
Wes Martens of Altona and Rosebank Colony near Miami have each won the competition five times.
Baker Colony first won in 1988 with a yield 147.24 an acre. It won again in 2011, 2013, 2015, 2016 and 2017.
The 2017 competition results were announced Feb. 14 during the 2018 CropConnect banquet in Winnipeg.
John Bergen of Roland and McCutcheon Farms Ltd. of Carman were second and third with yields of 257.9 and 236.2, bushels an acre, respectively.
Bergen grew DeKalb DKC33-78RIB, while McCutcheon Farms planted DeKalb DKC35-88RIB.
Baker Colony received $1,000 from DuPont Pioneer, a wall plaque and its name on the competition trophy, which the colony keeps for a year.
Bergen and McCutcheon Farms received $500 and $250, respectively, plus plaques.
Mack Waldner, who received the award on behalf of Baker Colony, said surpassing 300 bushels an acre was the goal.
“It has been a dream a long time already to break that 300 (bushels an acre) mark and with Pioneer’s help we have been able to accomplish that,” Waldner said in an interview.
“The growing year was actually excellent for the corn. The heat units were there. It was on the drier side, but the yields that came out were phenomenal. We had some new varieties that we tried with (DuPont) Pioneer and this particular variety turned out excellent. Just looking at it grow and with a bit of good luck, good fertilization, the weather co-operated with not that much wind and it turned out better than we expected.”
There were timely rains too, Waldner added.
“But one thing that really helped was we had a lot of dew and moisture from the air,” he said. “I noticed that helped the corn stay greener. I think that made it pull through too.”
Like every farmer, Waldner said he hopes for an even higher-yielding corn crop in 2018, but given how dry the soil is now that could be a challenge.
While the corn competition set a yield record, Manitoba’s average insured corn yield in 2017 of 133 bushels an acre did not. The provincial record of 145 was set in 2016.
Still, the 2017 yield exceeded the 10-year average of 118 bushels an acre by 14 per cent.
Corn yield contestants are allowed to select cobs from two, 50-foot rows in a field. 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 in Manitoba and serves as a measure of how Manitoba corn yields have steadily increased over the years.
M. M. Barkley’s winning corn competition yield in 1971 was 142 bushels an acre. The five-year average competition yield from 1971 to 1975 was 124.34.
The five-year average, 10 years later, took a big jump to 145.0.
In 10 more years the average was 152.2.
The four-year average between 2000 and 2003, excluding 2004 — the year of Manitoba’s corn crop failure — was 199.14.
And the most current five-year average — 2013 to 2017 — is 260.
It took contestants until 1991 to exceed 200 bushels an acre.
In seven more years the winning yield exceeded 250 — 252.61 to be exact, which was a new record.
That record held until in 2008 when the winning yield was 252.95 — just slightly more than the previous record.
But Baker Colony shattered it in 2011 with a yield of 271.69 and then broke it again in 2016 and 2017.