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The Cropwalker - Volume 1 Issue 14

Always read and follow label directions.

Holiday Schedule

Thank you for reading our content. It's been a great experience working to build an audience over the past 4 months.

Here is our newsletter schedule for the next few months. In the meantime, take some time off and enjoy family and friends over the holiday season.

Table 1- 2019 Newsletter Schedule

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Soybean and Corn Harvest

Harvest window is closed on some fields and will quickly close on the rest. Maybe 5-10% of the soybean crop is out in some areas. Beans deteriorated a lot in last 2 weeks and some are not worth harvesting. Corn harvest carries on. We have been told that Crop Insurance has released 16,000 acres to be destroyed. More corn is now being accepted at 8 ppm. Ethanol plant has agreed to have another high DON run at a later date. So far DDGs did not go to the dump, but did find a home.

Another DON Meeting

Someone there was suggesting that we should recommend a high yielding hybrid even if it is not the greatest for tolerating DON production. I disagree. But how much yield are you willing to give up to get a less DON susceptible hybrid. I think and the survey we did suggested that you can give up to 5%. But I am afraid we will spend too much time discussing DON this winter and miss out on things like starter fertilizer and weed control and fungicide use. I have been told that one kernel could change a DON test by 1-2 ppm. Hard to prove or disprove since the amount of DON in a kernel is variable. I don’t think there will be any corn with 0.0 ppm DON. And probably never was. Has it ever been this bad before? Maybe. Some of those wet years in the 70s, like 1977, we may have had high DON levels but since we didn’t test, we didn’t know. But you can be sure that in the future testing will be a higher priority.

How Much Yield is Ontario Farmers Willing to Give Up to Get Reduced DON Levels

We asked in a survey. We had 183 respondents over 2 days. Survey said, 30% would give up 1% or less, 19% are willing to give up 3% yield, 23% would give up 5%, and 28% are willing to give up 5% or more. So, for a 200 bu/ac crop 50% of respondents to this survey are willing to give up 10 bu/ac to get reduced DON levels. Now we just have to get that message to the marketers.

How much did White Mould Impact Soybean Yields in 2018?

According to Christy Visser of CVP Crop Management, growers reported that areas with white mould cut yields in half (30 bu/ac in 60 bu/ac fields). Fortunately, the areas were relatively small, and didn’t significantly affect the overall field average. Most fields in her area were not sprayed with a fungicide, those that did saw a 5-10 bu/ac yield bump. She did not indicate if the fungicides controlled white mould.

What Does Soil Health Mean To You?

There are many products and services being touted to “improve” or “maintain” soil health. But first and foremost, the question should be, “what does soil health mean to you”? For myself, it is having profitable and stable yields. I get the impression what many growers are looking for isn’t necessarily soil health, as much as having profitable crops that do not respond to outside inputs. If we define the definition in that manner, it really helps to clarify what a grower is hoping to achieve.

Two Trains of Thought When It Comes To Field Crop Management

I see two trains of thoughts in field crops. Neither is necessarily 100% right, and they are at opposite ends of the spectrum in many respects. 1) Whole farm management; select practices that fit the full farm, rather than on a field by field or smaller basis. 2) Site specific management, continues down the path of trying to identify and manage increasing smaller and smaller areas that could provide a return.

Option 1 selects practices that on average fit the soil type and perform with little response to additional inputs. Buzz words are; defensive, formless, resilient, anti-fragile, managing for the middle, etc.…

Option 2 selects practices that manage for the field extremes, requiring a high level of detail and equipment capability. Buzz words are; offensive, precise/precision, intensive, fragile, manage for the edges, etc.…

Option 1 runs the risk of leaving money on the table, especially in situations where it would pay to manage a field or area separately. Option 2 runs the risk of running the never ending declining rate of return treadmill.

The question is, when should you pick option 1? And when should you increase the level of management (option 2) because the return more than offsets the time and materials?

Are Your Forage Samples High in Ash?

First of all, what is too high. I asked my maritime buddy, Randy Dyment, who spends a lot of time looking at forage samples. He says you want it below 10%. And really likes it to be 7 to 8%. That may be a bit lower than realistic but sure is a target. The most common reason for too high ash content is soil in the forage mix. You can get soil in the forage by having rain splash soil from the ground after cutting and before harvest. But the most common reason is cutting forages too short. Forages should never be cut lower than 3”. If it is all grass probably higher than that (especially Orchard grass). Cutting lower gets more dirt into the feed. Then when forages are raked, if the swath is lying closer to the ground, more dirt is raked in. What is the ash content of your feed?

Control White Mould with Varieties or Fungicides?

Have research from a private researcher looking at products and varieties in 2018. His conclusions, there are bigger differences among varieties than among fungicides. There was less mould in some varieties than the average of all varieties with maximum mould protection. For mould control in soybeans start with the most tolerant variety.

Results from Michigan 2018 SMART On-Farm Research Trials

You can see the full report on line. Planting rate Soybeans were planted at a number of locations over 3 years. Planting rates were 80,000, 100,000, 130,000 and 160,000 seeds per acres. Plots were in 15- or 30-inch rows. The maximum yield occurred at 100,000 to 130,000 seeds/ac. The trials were fairly consistent in stand numbers vs. planted numbers. On average stands were 75% of seed drop. White mould was worst at 160,000 seeding rate and least at 100,000 seeds/ac.

ILeVO seed treatment is a fungicide to control SDS and SCN. These trials were planted on fields known to have high levels of SCN and SDS. Over 3 years treated seed had a yield increase of 1.9 bu/ac. The average economic return was $3.44 (US) per acre.

Clariva seed treatment to control SCN. This seed treatment from Syngenta was applied on seed planted in fields with a known SCN history. It did not improve yield in any of the 7 locations.

(Ed: Local Ontario experience suggests that SCN control with ILeVO or Clariva is comparable. ILeVO is a group 7 fungicide, where Clariva is a biological nematicide (addition of Mertect is required for SDS control). There has been a greater difference observed between soybean varieties and their SCN resistance than between ILeVO and Clariva treatments.)

Where Do You Start with Precision Cropping?

Was told of a discussion where a grower thought they should get into precision cropping, but did not know where to start. I know where to start. Start with variable rate P&K. Presuming you already do variable rate lime, which is an absolute no brainer. When you think of the yield variation in some fields/farms, you know you should be doing variable rate P&K. Start with 2 or 3 of your most variable fields/farms. As you get comfortable with it, add more. If you want someone to help you get started, give us a call. But it is not that complicated. I talked to Jack Legg at SGS Labs in Guelph. He is capable and able to make the shape files for you with the rates needed. Once these files are made, you can then tweak them yearly as things change.

Didn’t Get Lime on This Fall. Is it better to wait for spring or spread it now?

The main reason for spreading now is because you are afraid it will cake, and not be able to spread it next spring. If you spread it now there is bound to be some physical movement of it, wind and perhaps water. If ground is fairly level and you are concerned that you may not get it done next spring before planting, then spread now. It must be worked in to be of value. Best alternative is to wait for spring, and do your best to get it on and get it worked in.

Not my monkey. Not my circus - Sandra O'Toole