New hybrids of corn are giving Western Canadian farmers another option in their rotations
Manitoba farmers have grown corn for several years but, now that new hybrids are hitting the market, Saskatchewan and Alberta farmers might consider adding corn to their rotations.
A big problem with corn in Western Canada was the lack of hybrids that could adapt to the region’s growing season, explained Mark Kerry. He’s the crop and campaign marketing manager for corn in Canada at Bayer Crop Science.
“Corn, like any crop, has to be bred for the region that it's going to be grown in. Until the last few years, there hadn't been hybrids early enough to grow in some of those really short growing season areas,” Kerry told Farms.com.
Bayer recently launched its Dekalb hybrid DKC21-36RIB, a 71RM hybrid, which is suitable for more regions of Western Canada.
Corn is a hearty crop that can really add benefits to farmers’ rotations, said Kerry.
“Why a farmer would want to plant corn is all about the return on their investment. Corn is a real game changer for a Western Canadian producer who has been growing cereals, canola or other crops. (With corn), you can get 130 to 140 bushels per acre in Western Canada – and even more in some of the later-day areas such as southern Manitoba or southern Alberta,” he said.
When farmers get high yields consistently and make more money than with their current rotations, corn starts to look pretty good, said Kerry.
However, producers must consider some start-up costs.
“To really be profitable at growing corn, you want to have a corn planter. The second thing you need is … a corn head (for your) combine. Third, you will have a lot of bulk in the grain, so you typically need to dry corn at harvest. So, you would also need to have a corn dryer or have access to that through your grain handling facility,” said Kerry.
Corn is also like canola in that you need to factor in extra inputs such as fertilizer, said Kerry.
“It takes some inputs but, at the end of the day, you can pull off some nice yields. Once farmers start to experience corn in their rotations, I think they're going to be pretty happy with it as a viable, sustainable crop,” said Kerry.
If producers are interested in growing corn or taking the step from growing corn for silage to growing corn for grain, Kerry suggested reaching out to people you know.
“You want to pick the right hybrid, you want to pick the right field, and you want to do things correctly to get the best return on the investment you're making. So, talk to another grower or some of the experts who are out there,” said Kerry.
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