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The Cropwalker - Volume 2 Issue 1

Always read and follow label directions.

For the next few issues we will have content from the Southwest Agricultural Conference in Ridgetown, ON - these articles are noted as "SWAC".


Understanding Compound Fertilizers

There are a several fertilizers on the market that are created using compounding. Compounding occurs during the granulation process, where multiple nutrients are added to make a homogenous granule. The main benefits of compounding are; 1) multiple nutrients can be applied without blending, reducing the risk of separation and need for handling 2) there can be improved nutrient use efficiency for low application rate nutrients i.e. boron, copper, zinc. 3) In some instances there is an improvement in crop safety (no hot spots) or spread pattern due to a more even SGN (granule size) compared to a blended product. Where these products do not fit is when a single nutrient is required for crop removal or building a soil test. In those situations use a single nutrient product – i.e. 11-52-0 or 0-0-60.

Table 1 - A summary of common compound fertilizers

SWAC (Question from Pundits session) What are we going to do with the poor looking wheat?

Every year we get asked this question. Answer is the same. Right now, we are not going to do anything about it. Many years wheat that looks poorly, yields OK. And some years when wheat looks good now, we lose it in April. So, do not spend time thinking or worrying about it . Once wheat starts to green up is when you decide. If wheat is greening up and you are still not sure, apply a minimum of 30 actual N. That way if you get some early nice weather the nitrogen will be there to start the wheat. If you end up destroying the wheat the nitrogen will be there for corn. Red clover decision does not need to be made until green up. You can still apply red clover once the wheat starts to green up, even if that is first week of May. Years ago we used to apply red clover with the 28% UAN the first week of May. Will late planted wheat yield as well as earlier planted wheat? Odds are that no it will not. But when you look at the rotational benefits to wheat, plus straw value plus chance to add organic matter with a cover crop you can still do OK by leaving a less than stellar crop of wheat. Further question. What cereal should you plant to keep the rotation growing? Answer is corn? Corn is a cereal. Some really great corn yields came after burning off winter wheat.

DON comments from SWAC Conference

Another great conference at SWAC, with approximate 1400 in attendance each day. We will be giving you some highlights from the various speakers. A lot of talk on DON. 1) Weather conditions in 2018 were very specific for the production of DON  from the various moulds. Probability of having those same conditions across a significant part of Ontario in 2019 are small. But some areas will probably see some DON production. 2) Growers who had a hybrid with high DON in 2018 will not plant that hybrid again. (I did talk to one grower who destroyed over 200 acres and plans to plant the same hybrid in 2019. It was a non-gmo hybrid and he gets a nice premium. 3) Use of Proline or Caramba, applied at the right time gave about a 50% reduction in DON. In some fields 50% reduction still ended up with unsaleable corn. 4) DON was high in corn silage. 5) Growers should use multiple hybrids to spread risk. (Growers are already doing this so no big change) 6) Testing system at the elevators is very frustrating and inconsistent. Everyone knows that, but so far cannot come up with a better system. Things like fineness of grind is a factor. 7) DON is not going away. From now on there will be a lot more testing for DON at the elevators. Spoke with one person from an elevator who said that the  corn they are shipping out now, is testing higher than when they accepted it .

SWAC - Aspire (Pundits session) Is it worthwhile on corn?

I don’t think so for 2019. Aspire is a blend of potassium and boron. The nutrients are “onion leaf formulated” like the zinc and sulphur in MESZ. Typically boron deficiency is not showing up on entire fields. If it does show up, it will most likely only be in parts of the field, so consider applying boron only to areas that need it. If applying in a starter, too high a rate of boron is toxic to seed/seedlings. If you are considering it on your farm, pick the field or farm with the lowest organic matter. It has the highest likelihood of response. Aspire does have a good fit for alfalfa. Alfalfa needs at least 1 pound of boron per acre per year.

What were the Big Aahaas in 2018?

We asked a number of agronomists what were they in their area. Ryan Benjamins CCA in the Lambton area said one of them was how wide spread SDS (Sudden Death Syndrome) appeared in soybeans through his area in 2018. The new seed treatment, Ilevo (see last week’s Cropwalker) offers some relief. Another one from Ryan is the fact that fall strip tillage requires row cleaners for uniform emergence. Another passed along by a grower is “using row cleaners in a separate pass before no tilling soybeans into corn stalks.” This spring when the soil would not dry out, he used them as a separate pass to dry the soil and speed planting. There is a farm family (La Ferme Lamoureux in Quebec) who are making, and selling row cleaners, that are a stand-alone piece of equipment.

Variable Rate Starter – Is this Worthwhile?

Spoke with a grower, who for another $5,000.00, could add this function as he refurbishes his planter. I suggested it was not a good idea. For a starter you want to have 30 lbs./ac actual N and about the same of phosphorous. To vary these two products as a starter makes no sense. I like to have at least 1 pound/ac zinc in the mix, and, magnesium if soil test levels are low. So you will really not benefit from varying any of these nutrients. Besides, you want to keep planting as simple as possible. Having to variable rate starter is another thing that you have to keep watching. Not worth the effort.

SWAC - Can I put MAP or MESZ with Soybean Seed?

I was asked this at SWAC. I said no. The grower said he had been doing it and did not like my answer. I trade information with a number of other agronomists. First answer back was from CCA Deb Campbell. She said “I’m not a fan either. I’ve done 50 lbs./ac. But find a stand reduction. But under conditions where emergence is delayed the stand reduction increases significantly. I prefer to stay away from it. Paul Sullivan CCA says he does it and does not feel there is a problem. Peter Johnson “Horst did a project a few years back. He found 50 lbs. MAP reduced stand by 15%. But on low testing soils there was still a small yield gain, even with reduced stands, on low testing soils. However, he could get a bigger gain by broadcasting 100 lbs./ac MAP. He is playing with fire and it makes no sense to me. Where this could make sense is on very low testing no-till soils, however, on heavier soil types expect a significant stand loss if soils are crusting or saturated.

Looking for a calculator to do UAN/ATS recommendations?

I developed the calculator in the picture (below) to help generate UAN/ATS mixing ratios and rates. If you would like a copy to help figure out mixing ratios of 28% UAN/ATS or 32% UAN/ATS, click on the following link. http://www.fieldwalker.ca/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/FieldwalkerUANATSCalc.xlsx

Picture 1 - UAN/ATS Requirements Calculator

SWAC - How precise do we need to be in our corn nitrogen recommendations?

U of G Cropping System Prof. Bill Deen and Maizex Agronomist Greg Stewart presented data at SWAC 2019 regarding corn nitrogen recommendations. Dr. Deen is currently working on data to develop an updated corn nitrogen recommendation. The challenge is that it can greatly vary depending on the amount of rainfall, especially after tasseling. This is too late to make a judgement call. But he did have data to show that the most economical rate of nitrogen (MERN) has a fairly wide plateau depending on the year. This means that if you can be within $10/ac of the optimal rec, that is as good as it gets given how strongly weather influences optimal N rate. How wide of a range are these when it comes to MERN if using a +/- $10/ac? In many cases they were 150 to 200 lbs actual N/ac or +/- 25-30 lbs N/ac. Based upon my notes from this research 1) Use a nitrogen credit as appropriate for the crop rotation 2) Make adjustments based upon soil texture if required 3) Use soil moisture as one of the management factors for deciding on late season N application rate.

The best way to predict the future is to create it. - Abe Lincoln