Monsanto Canada is investing $100 million over the next 10 years to develop earlier-maturing corn hybrids which could lead to a huge increase in the amount of corn being grown in Western Canada.
The Winnipeg-based agricultural company Monsanto said today its Canada Corn Expansion Project could potentially boost Western Canada’s annual corn acreage to eight to 10 million acres from the current 300,000 to 500,000 acres.
Mike Nailor, Monsanto’s corn and soybean lead for Canada, said while Western Canadian farmers are some of the most sophisticated in the world, most haven’t had the option to grow corn in the shorter-season climate that characterizes Western Canada.
"They produce great crops year-after-year in canola, wheat, barley and alfalfa, to name a few. But what if they could do better? That’s the question we started to ask ourselves when we looked at the corn opportunity," Nailor said.
"There will definitely be a learning curve, but farmers are innovators and strong adopters of technology. I don’t doubt for a second that, given the tools, they will drive corn acre expansion across the West if the yield and profitability potential in corn remains strong relative to other cropping options."
Although the project’s focus will be on the western Canadian market, Monsanto hopes to also develop new hybrids that could be grown in northern Ontario and Quebec, said Dan Wright, the project’s lead.
"There is a lot of work ahead of us to help Canadian farmers be successful with this opportunity," Wright said, "but we feel it holds significant potential to transform western Canadian agriculture, strengthen agricultural productivity and deliver incremental income to farmers annually."