Ontario corn growers could be sitting on record yields for 2021 if yield estimates are on the mark.

The recent Great Ontario Yield Tour pegged yield at 191.5 bu/ac after a province-wide inspection of corn fields.

On this episode of The Sharp Edge, Maizex Seeds agronomist Greg Stewart looks at some of the sharpest agronomic practices that have fuelled yield expectations. He also notes that many growers can further fine tune their management systems to avoid leaving yield in the field.

Stewart explains that the components of  the 191.5 bu/ac estimate include an average ear count of 30,500 per acre, 16.9 rows per plant and an average cob length measured at 34.5 kernels.

Stewart believes growers can learn a lot about their management practices by conducting a simple yield tour of their own fields starting with the seed drop at planting — for example, 34,500 seeds. Growers then need to assess plant stands in June and return to the field a third time in August to count solid ears. At this point, even growers with excellent agronomic practices, good growing conditions and a strong, well-positioned hybrid will see their ear population shrink to 32,500.

Even in this scenario, Stewart believes growers can harvest an additional eight to 10 bushels if they can sharpen their agronomy skills. (Story continues after the video)

In the video, Stewart offers tips on what growers should look for as they tour their fields. He says it’s important check for misses in the row as well backward plants that have no ear, and then identify the cause.

Stewart believes seeding depth and failure to plant into moisture is the biggest cause of seed misfires and poor plants. It’s a discussion he has every year with growers and an agronomic challenge that annually takes a bite out of yields. Even in 2021, he notes that fields began to dry out after May 10 and growers needed to adjust planting depth. “When it comes to planting depth, growers should not be afraid to go just a little bit deeper,” he adds.

Stewart notes that research data shows pushing planting depth down to 2.25 or 2.5 inches “creates very little risk compared to being on the shallow side.”

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