Corn acreage in southern Alberta is steadily increasing

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Corn production is slowly increasing in southern Alberta, with most gains coming on the grain side of the industry, says an industry spokesman.

Some of the increase comes on the heels of corn crop losses in the U.S., prompting more producers in Alberta to plant corn, while silage corn production is more static, said Elizabeth Tokariuk, Alberta Corn Committee manager.

Most corn users — dairymen and cattle feeders — produce for their own needs, although “there are some contract growers in the area,” she said.

Some cattle producers are also growing corn for grazing their herds. Total corn production in southern Alberta was about 40,000 acres, but with increases likely will soon nudge 50,000 acres, she said.

Grain corn production was the focus of former Lethbridge Research Station researcher Stan Freyman. He worked on varietal trials, and even helped organize a price premium of 50 cents a bushel (declining 10 cents a bushel over five years) as an incentive to produce it.

Tokariuk said producing the type of grain corn needed for the chipping industry proved a stumbling block. Southern Alberta grain corn could be used, but chip makers would have had to alter recipes.

The 2012 committee members included Lethbridge industry officials Bruce MacKinnon and Corny Van Dasselaar on the executive committee. Directors included Bruce MacKinnon, Bill Hamman, Adrian Moens, and Lethbridge Dairy Mart, all of Lethbridge. Others were Talbot Bergsma of Carman, Man., Harley Bell of Winnipeg, Kevin Dunse of Cochrane, Gordon Frank of Brooks, Alan Patterson of Rolling Hills, Kent Price of Calgary, Lloyd Van Eeden Petersman of Taber, Tom Van Moorsel of Red Deer, and Jim Wever of Burdett. Ex-officio officers include Brian Beres and Ryan Dyck with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada in Lethbridge, Vern Baron with the Lacombe Research Centre of AAFC, and Don David with the Can-Sask Irrigation Divers Centre at Outlook, Saskatchewan.

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