GFO District 9 meeting in Mitchell in January of 2019. (Photo by Steve Sabourin)

Corn producers in Perth County want better crisis support

Corn producers in Perth County are still navigating through challenges after high levels of vomitoxin, also known as DON, were found in the crop during harvest.

The hardest area of the province was southwestern Ontario.

Perth County saw an above yield in corn of 197 bu/ac compared to the provincial average of 182.

But wet weather in the harvest season also led to high levels of DON.

“It seemed to be pretty hard hit, pretty quick in the southern part of our district. The Tavistock area, Mitchell and Stratford and east of Stratford,” said Mark Brock, former Grain Farmers of Ontario director of District 9. “You know, early in corn harvest we identified it was a pretty big issue for the southern part. As we see corn being shipped and going to end users, we’re hearing some stories where it is popping up in other areas of the district as well.”

Many producers are trying to figure out insurance coverage and the Grain Farmers of Ontario is also asking the federal and provincial governments to strengthen risk management programs for grain producers.

“I think the bottom line issue is the Business Risk Management programs have been eroded through the times,” said Barry Senft, the CEO of Grain Farmers of Ontario. “Because the grain industry has experienced some decent prices since 2008, we haven’t had the call for a safety net program on the revenue side. But the time is going to come, and for some farmers, that time has come this past fall.”

And even though the year on the calendar has flipped, the issue is still playing a role in how producers can market and use their crop.

“Maybe half of the corn has been marketed from this past harvest so there is a lot of corn to move through the system. Farmers need to be looking at where their most attractive market is,” added Senft.

For Josh Boresen, whose farm is in the Stratford area, it will be a financial loss but something he believes he and his family can get through.

“It’s going to cost us a lot of money and in the long run we can place that, I guess,” said Boersen. “This was a weather event but nothing as serious as other places have experienced like in B.C. with wildfires. We didn’t lose our livelihood, we just lost a portion of the crop. It’s going to be significant in terms of financial trouble for a period of time but we’ll make it through.”

Boresen talked with CKNX after being elected the new GFO director of District 9, Perth County.

As for next growing season, many corn growers will have to make some decisions about seeds and rank the importance of seed traits when it comes to high yield versus disease resistance.

For the complete interview with Barry Senft, CEO of Grain Farmers of Ontario, click play below.