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The Cropwalker - Volume 1 Issue 10

Always read and follow label directions.


2018 Harvest compared to 2014

On November 17, 2014 we had about 30-35% of the corn harvested across Ontario. Moistures were still in the mid to high 20’s. One big difference is that vomi was low that year, but so was bushel weight.  Just the odd load being rejected in 2014 for vomi. By December 1, 2014; still 40-70% of the crop was out. On December 1, 2014; about 10% of the soybeans were still out. That means there is still lots of time to get soybeans off now. A big issue for the 2015 crop was compaction in soybeans no tilled into corn stalks.

Crop Insurance and This Year’s Corn

Looks like there MAY be crop ploughed down. Lots of talk but I still don’t know of any. Before you plough any down talk to Agricorp. There is lots of blending going on to get a suitable product. When you calculate the higher yield from your good corn, then take your deductible you may not gain by ploughing down corn.

Why Not Use Vomi Corn for Ethanol?

The corn is suitable for ethanol production but the DDGs (Dry Distillers Grain) is 3 times higher in vomi than the corn was. This product has no value. I did a rough calculation and figure that it is worth about $16/tonne at your field as fertilizer.

Why Do Corn Companies Have Early Order Discounts ?

They need to determine seed requirements. They will have a lot of seed that they could process and bag. But if the customers don’t want that seed, they will not process it. Also, they need to know which hybrids they will be short of, so they can give their dealers’ warnings that a certain hybrid will be short. That way dealers will try and get to their customers before another dealer sells the hybrid that is in short supply. This year I imagine there will be a lot of hybrids in short supply, and also, some hybrids that are long in supply. Suggest you talk to your seed dealer now, even though you may not feel like it.

Tillage for Fall 2018 Corn Ground

If you normally no till soybeans into corn, read no further. For those who use tillage on corn stalks, read on. You have to separate tillage by soil type. Lighter soils such as Listowel or Honeywood silt loams, and lighter, fall tillage of corn stalks is not critical. You can do conservation tillage on that ground next spring. Once you get into heavier soils such as the Brookston or Haldimand series, unfortunately, mouldboard ploughing is the best way to go. (It is unfortunate that we do not have a better way to characterize soils. Not all silt loam soils are the same. A Brookston silt loam soil is heavier than a Harriston silt loam. And there is a difference between Perth clay loams and Huron clay loams. Your experience will be the best guide.) One thing for sure is do not use a chisel plough this fall.

Paul Sullivan’s take on Corn Stalk Management and Tillage

Paul Sullivan, is a Certified Crop Advisor with Sullivan Agro in the Ottawa Valley and here is his take on managing corn stalks going to soybeans; 1) The wrong fall tillage tool in wet soil conditions creates high density layers (compaction) 2) Paul likes to wait until spring for stalks to be dry, then to work them with some type of true vertical tillage tool (slice and dice) or rolling disc (concave style). Soil conditions need to be fit. He would rather do nothing than use a tandem disc, which brings up root-balls. 3) If no-tilling, consider using a Cleansweep style row-cleaner, to both warm the ground up, and to ensure seed to soil contact. 4) Concerned you are working your soils too wet, or with the wrong tool? Paul recommends digging up plants and assessing the roots. Twisting or crooking of the soybean root system will indicate a change in soil bulk density. 5) In Paul’s experience, soybeans respond very little to tillage, thus most of what we are trying to do is manage the residue. Soybeans do respond to early planting though, so what do you have to do on your farm to plant earlier in corn stalk residue?

Concave style disk doing spring tillage on corn stalks.

Negotiating with the Property Owner

Some are more sensitive to the crop producer’s plight than others. Or as one grower said, “Landlords have different tolerances.” There are many stories about growers paying high rents, but few about growers paying low rents, because none of these growers want their competition to know about low rents. We would probably be better if all rents were on a share basis. Some guidelines are for corn, a 25-30% share (dicker on drying charges), beans 40% share and wheat 35-40%. . You may be able to negotiate other things that will affect rent such as snow plowing, or being on call for personal emergencies. And then there is the ability to sell you as the best person to look after the property owner’s land. Be sure to tell your landlord about all the good soil management practices you are carrying on. Tell them the fertility you have applied and hopefully you can show soil test levels before you started and what they are now. Talk about weed management to reduce risk of resistant weeds. Better still make a list and hand it to your landlord. And don’t take relatives for granted, treat them the same as non-relatives.

Putting Grasses into Harvextra (Roundup Ready) Alfalfa

There are a number of ways that I have seen work. One is to plant alfalfa, then when the alfalfa is just emerging, spray with Roundup. This will kill the early flush of weeds. Then 24 hours later (or less), seed the grasses. Another option is to spray Roundup early, and then, seed the grass in August. I have seen various grasses seeded at different seeding rates. Generally, you cannot predict what % grass you will end up with. You have to seed and then work with whatever percentage grass you have. A real option is to plant alfalfa and grass as you always do but do not use Roundup.

Elevation vs Topography vs Wetness Potential

This has been brought up several times by others this fall on social media but wanted to reinforce the concept. A few definitions to start: 1) Elevation – a measurement of distance above sea level of where a particular point in the field is located.

2) Topography - the surface configuration, including its relief and the position of its natural and man-made features.

3) Wetness Potential – an index of moisture availability relative the rest of the field average (wetter or drier).

Why does this matter? A) You can have a low spot in one field at the same elevation as knoll in the same field. B) Not all knolls and low spots are equal, when utilizing a topography map having the ability to sort out moisture availability is a key layer.

Building Prescriptions - Continued (6)

Yield = Sunlight + Heat + Nutrients + Plant Available Water

Even in Ontario’s temperate climate, plant available water is a yield limiting factor in parts of the field. The obvious part to point out is that it can be limited due to both a moisture deficit and a moisture surplus. What factors can be managed in the various areas based upon the range in moisture availability? In my opinion, this would be mainly seeding rates and mobile nutrients.

For seeding rates; the rate should reflect first and foremost the plant mortality in that area, and second, in-seasons risks associated with drought or disease management.

For fertility;

1) Moisture deficit areas: will typical support lower yields, leading to less soil organic matter over time, which means lower rates of mineralized boron, nitrogen and sulphur.

2) Moisture surplus areas may support lower yields as well, however, these areas tend to accumulate soil organic matter and have a higher risk of denitrification.

The first step is to identify the areas of plant available water, and then consider how your current management is impacted by them. Once this has been sorted,  a forward looking plan can be constructed.

To think is easy. To act is hard. But the hardest thing in the world is to act in accordance with your thinking.

- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe