By Top Crop Manager
Dec. 13, 2013, Ontario – The 2013 corn year got off to a slow start as very little planting was done in April due to cool, wet conditions, according to OMAF's 2013 seasonal summary for corn. However, a nice window of good weather opened up in the first 10 days of May and the majority of the crop was planted in that period. Planting after May 10 proved to be more difficult due to frequent rainfall events in the last half of May.
By June 1, above average acreage was in the ground and the crop was in average to good condition across most of the province. Although there were a few isolated areas where rainfall was limiting, most of the province received adequate moisture throughout the growing season.
In some areas, rainfall was excessive in the mid-June to late July period and late season nitrogen deficiencies in the corn crop were apparent. This was caused by nitrogen leaching or denitrification in saturated soils.
Soil erosion from several intense rainfall events kept the need for conservation tillage practices in mind.
Weather events with high wind speeds caused significant lodging across stretches of southwestern Ontario in July. Crops that were close to tassel at the time of lodging did not recover as well as corn damaged earlier in the month.
Ontario Crop Heat Unit (CHU) accumulation was at or near normal for most of the year. Cool conditions slowed development during pollination and by August 15 there was considerable concern about the crop finishing grain filling before frost events. Fortunately the last half of August and most of September presented good grain filling conditions and most of the crop black layered before a killing frost. Final CHU accumulation (May 1 to season-end) at most locations in the province was within three per cent of the 30-year normal.
Fall harvesting was hampered by frequent rain events but the standability of the crop remained surprisingly strong. In certain areas corn harvest dragged well into December before completion.
Yield: Corn yields were average to well above average in most counties. When all calculations are completed the Ontario provincial corn yield for 2013 will settle in the 155 -160 bu/acre range and above the five year average of 153.5 bu/acre.
Quality: Test weight was negatively affected by the fact that grain filling occurred later in the season and in some cases by an above average level of Northern Leaf Blight. However, for the most part the industry was able to cope with the slightly lower than average test weights. Ear moulds and vomitoxin levels were once again quite low across the province resulting in few issues with grain feeding quality.