The corn industry in Western Canada is currently experiencing a period of substantial growth. There are now over 1,500 corn growers in Manitoba planting an average of over 180,000 acres/year with 2013 reaching a record 430,000 acres. The average yield for corn has risen from an average of 57 bu/acre in the 1980’s to over 110 bu/acre in the 2010’s due to public and private research on corn hybrids for lower heat unit areas. The Canadian seed industry is successfully providing varieties and developing new genetics that are suited to growing conditions in Manitoba. However, there remains a need for agronomic research to compliment genetic improvements.
The Manitoba Corn Growers Association (MCGA) recognizes the need for research to increase the productivity and competitiveness of their growers and intend to facilitate the development of agronomic innovations for them. A top priority of the MCGA is to fund research activities that will positively impact the corn production industry in Manitoba. In the past ten years, the MCGA has dedicated over $975,000 to scientific research projects, which represents between 23% and 654% of membership levy due to high volatility in corn acreage. Past research has provided valuable insight in terms of corn agronomy, sub-surface tile drainage, residue management and stand density. In addition, a significant portion of MCGA research investment has been directed to pesticide minor use registration in grain corn as well as variety testing trials across Manitoba.
2014 was an exciting year for research at the MCGA. Through the Growing Forward 2 Agri-Food Research and Development Initiative and with the support of the Western Grains Research Foundation, the MCGA has been able to turn an investment of $254,750 into a $648,300 Agronomy Research Project; that means that for every $1 the MCGA invests in the Agronomy Project, our partners invest $1.54. Similarly, through the Growing Forward 2 Capacity and Knowledge Development Program, under the Grain Innovation Hub, the MCGA has been able to turn an investment of $371,310 into a $1.7M Technical Project; that means for every $1 the MCGA invests in the Technical Project, an additional $3.60 is generated through GF2.
Despite past volatility, the MCGA was able to develop a favourable cash reserve to secure future investments in research; over the next four years, the MCGA will invest over $1.1 million in applied agronomic research that will reduce production risk as well as build and maintain corn acreage and MCGA membership.