Better genetics, farm management practices, technology and weather helped fuel Ontario’s record corn and soybean yields in 2021.
By Andrew Joseph, Farms.com, Photo by Joe Vasquez on Unsplash
According to Government of Ontario agency Agricorp, the final numbers for 2021 are: Corn @ 200 bpa; Soybean @ 53 bpa.
These numbers are based upon results garnered from Insured of 1.36 million acres of corn, and 1.88 million acres of soybeans from Ontario farms.
Maurizio (Moe) Agostino, Chief Commodity Strategist with Farms.com Risk Management, and Greg Stewart, Maizex Agronomy Lead were not surprised by the record-breaking yields, only that it had been broken by so much.
For corn, the previous record was achieved in 2017 when 185 bushels per acre (bpa) were realized. For reference, corn reached 184 bpa in 2018; 162 bpa in 2019; 176 bpa in 2020.
“Not to sound arrogant,” explained Stewart, “but when we were driving through the countryside looking at the fields in July, we knew even then that 2021 was going to be a record year—and we discussed as much at the 2021 Great Ontario Yield Tour in August that it would reach a record 191.5 bpa.
“We’re pleased to be wrong.”
Agostino said that when they were in the fields measuring the corn for the sixth year, for example, they were seeing higher ear counts, more rows of kernels around the ear, and higher length than any other year.
“But what made the actual record-breaking number so much higher than our record-breaking estimate was the density of the kernels,” admitted Agostino. “Big, healthy kernels created by a perfect storm of growing season weather in Ontario.”
Stewart said that while he was initially calculating numbers for corn over the summer, he kept going over and over his high estimate—an estimate that would smash the record by an incredible eight-and-a-half bushels per acre.
“I knew it would be big, but clearly we underestimated on the side of caution how heavy the kernels would be,” he acknowledged. “We still predicted a record, though, didn’t we?”
As to why Ontario corn and soybeans saw such a windfall, Agostino was frank in his admission that it came down to “Better genetics, farm management practices, technology and weather. We got a dry April and May, lots of rain after that, and it ended with a great finish.
“The Ontario results are superb,” Agostino said. “It ranks right up there at the top alongside the top two corn producing states in the US—Iowa and Illinois—and they have much better soil than us. So, for us to be up there with them shows what a great job our Ontario farmers did. What makes the record corn yield even more impressive was the fact that we had hot spots of tar spot in Elgin and Chatham-Kent counties.”
Agostino said that along the two-week data tour, he and Stewart noticed a lack of top soybean pod clusters versus 2020, but it was very variable not consistent from field to field.
“In the end, it did not matter, as the province still pulled out a record yield.”