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Manitoba’s Late Corn Crop Is Catching Up

“If it (corn) makes it, like everything else this year, the yields look like they will be phenomenal again.”

– PAM DE ROCQUIGNY

Maybe, just maybe, Manitoba corn farmers are going to dodge a bullet and harvest a good crop despite a cool spring and summer.

If they do it will be “back-to-back miracles,” following below-average temperatures this and last summer.

“We just might pull a rabbit out of our hat yet,” Carman-area farmer Shawn McCutcheon said in an interview Sept. 17, thanks to the first half of September being much warmer than average.

Between Sept. 1 and 17 Carman received 370.6 crop heat units. That’s just a little more heat units than Carman normally gets during the whole month, according to data compiled by Andy Nadler, Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Initiative’s (MAFRI) agricultural meteorologist.

“The (corn) crop is not made but it’s a lot closer to being made than we ever imagined. If we get two more weeks of reasonable weather there will be some reasonable corn out there, but it’s hypothetical yet,” McCutcheon said.

“Every day and every week that goes by without frost the quality of the corn is going to be better.”

Even with a killing frost this week, a lot of corn will be advanced enough to combine, McCutcheon said, however, yields and quality will suffer.

Some later corn, set back by cool, wet conditions this spring, including frost in some places, might not be worth combining if it freezes this week; some will probably never make it no matter how long the growing season lasts.

“The earlier fields aren’t a whole lot different (for maturity) than at this time last year,” McCutcheon said.

As of Sept. 13 Carman received a total of 2265 CHU or 91 per cent of normal. That’s 130 more heat units

350 300 250 200 150 100 50 0

than recorded by the same date last year.

“If we get into the first week of October without a frost (as was the case in 2008) there is probably going to be a pretty good corn crop on a lot of these acres with reasonable quality. That’s certainly not something we would have thought a month ago.”

McCutcheon credits July-like temperatures in September.

“It’s remarkable weather and exactly what we needed.”

Daytime highs have been in the upper 20s C and close to 30 C a couple of times with overnight lows usually in the double digits – just

236

2001

295

2002

the type of weather corn and other heat-loving crops like soybeans and edible beans need.

“The crop has changed radically in the last two weeks,” McCutcheon said.

The weather statistics jibe with McCutcheon’s observations. As of Sept. 17, September was the warmest month of the year, Nadler said.

“That will change as we cool off during the rest of the month,” he added.

During the first 17 days of September there was an average 21.8 CHU recorded a day at

CHU at Carman / September 1-15 / 2001-2009

278

2003

209

2004

263

2005

270

2006

190

2007

198

2008

325

2009

ANDY NADLER, MANITOBA AGRICULTURE, FOOD AND RURAL INITIATIVES

Carman; the daily average during July was 19.83. The long-term daily average for September is 12.3.

This Sept. 1 to 15 saw Carman record the most crop heat units at Carman – 325 – than during any of the previous eight years. The nine-year average is 223 CHU – 100 fewer. Last year there were only 198 CHU recorded between Sept. 1 and 15.

Not surprisingly, the average daily maximum and minimum temperature for the period this year was also above the nine year average at 26.2 and 11.5 C, respectively. The nine-year average is 20.5 and 7.8.

Last year Ma n i t o b a farmers harvested, on average a bumper 117-bushel-an-acre crop – not far off the record of 120, according to crop insurance records.

If the weather holds there could be some very good yields again, said MAFRI grain specialist Pam de Rocquigny.

“If it (corn) makes it, like everything else this year, the yields look like they will be phenomenal again,” she said.

It also means farmers will be combining corn in November and December, de Rocquigny added.

In the meantime, everyone has their fingers crossed that the frost holds off.

“I think we’ve had our fingers crossed since June.” [email protected]

About the author

Reporter

Allan Dawson

Allan Dawson is a reporter with the Manitoba Co-operator based near Miami, Man. Covering agriculture since 1980, Dawson has spent most of his career with the Co-operator except for several years with Farmers’ Independent Weekly and before that a Morden-Winkler area radio station.

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