Saturday November 22, 2014

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Wet spring may temper corn-growing interest in Man.

Some Manitoba producers who want to start growing corn for the first time this spring may not be able to because of wet conditions and the possibility of delayed planting.

"There are farmers who have never grown corn before or who have only grown just a little bit who are certainly showing more interest in putting more acres in this year," said Myron Krahn, vice-president of the Manitoba Corn Growers Association at Carman.

Much of the new interest is price-driven, as growing corn in Manitoba "pencils out well" this spring, Krahn said. New-crop prices for Manitoba corn are around $5 to $5.50 per bushel.

"There haven't been many years in my life where we've sold corn at that level off the combine, so that makes it exciting for corn growers," he said.

Seeing how well the crop did during the 2012-13 growing season also sparked some of the new interest.

Krahn said there should be a small increase in acres in Manitoba, but there could have been more if not for the large amounts of snowfall seen this winter. According to Statistics Canada, 300,000 acres of corn were planted in Manitoba in 2012.

Corn usually has a long growing season, and farmers may need to think about switching to something else if seeding is delayed too long this spring because of flooding, excessive snow cover and below-average temperatures.

"In the main corn growing belt of Manitoba you can get away with planting later," said Krahn. "But some of the areas where we'll see new farmers planting corn don't traditionally have very long growing seasons, so if seeding gets delayed at all, it cuts into the growing season."

Farmers in Manitoba aim to get corn crops in the ground in early May, and can sometimes stretch that to the end of May. But, growers who don't have a lot of experience with corn may need to be more cautious.

"In the non-traditional corn areas, towards the end of May would be the absolute deadline before you want to switch to something else," said Krahn.

Insects and disease shouldn't be an issue for the corn acres that get put into the ground, as the genetics of the plants do a pretty good job of fighting them off, he said.

The biggest worry for corn farmers in Manitoba this year will be making sure the crop has enough time to mature before the early frost season begins.

-- Terryn Shiells writes for Commodity News Service Canada, a Winnipeg company specializing in grain and commodity market reporting.

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