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Cereal rye cover crop has taken off. It should be terminated NOW! Winter wheat more acres are obviously not worth keeping. May start to see some mosaic virus show up in wheat. It is characterized by shorter yellow leafed plants. Tends to be spotty across the field. Soil borne virus that cannot be controlled. Also, will have some purple leaves showing up. Plant makes sugars, but roots too cold to grow to use them, so they turn to anthocyanins in the leaves. Nothing you can do, and generally won’t affect yield. Corn and soybean seed are still in the bags across Ontario. Odd acre here and there planted. One grower on lighter soils in Courtland has about 600 acres planted. US corn planting is about 23% up from last week’s 15% but behind 5-year average of 46%. Michigan is 3%, Ohio 2%. Soybean planting is at 6%. Alfalfa stands are not as good as they look from the road. Some fields look green but it is weeds, and not forages, with some annual bluegrass growing.
Weather One of our readers said “we have been through years like this before and will be through them again. He said that in 1997 they did not start to plant corn until after May 9.
What To Do With Poor Alfalfa Stands
You can try to patch poor stands of alfalfa but you will not be satisfied IF the area affected is more than 10-15% of the field. Best option if trying to patch up small dead areas is to broadcast red clover ASAP and then no till oats to give you some volume at harvest. You can seed Italian rye grass and expect to get 2-3 cuts this year. If the field was seeded in 2018 you can reseed alfalfa. There is no auto toxicity to new alfalfa plants until the stand is a year old. If you have lost a significant amount of the alfalfa consider planting corn into the field and plant alfalfa where you were going to plant corn. Plant corn first, not second. If you direct seed alfalfa now you can expect 2-3 tons of dry matter feed. If you add oats/peas the yield will be higher because of more yield in the first cut. First cut feed will be lower quality because of oats. If you are on light soil, you could spring plough or cultivate shallow and plant alfalfa, but no till corn will probably be quicker. Some suggestion of taking off the first cut and then planting corn. The reality of this scenario is that you lose too much corn yield by planting after first cut. Kill off the forages with Roundup. BASF cautions not to apply dicamba to alfalfa and then plant corn. Under certain conditions you can hurt certain hybrids if dicamba is applied pre-emerge. Better plan is to plant corn, and, after emergence spray dicamba to kill remaining alfalfa
Priaxor on Alfalfa
Lots of things to think about doing, but you can spray Priaxor on alfalfa now when much of your ground is still too wet to be on. Research from BASF suggests you should expect a 10-20% increase with first cut yields, and an increase in protein, because you are saving more leaves (better leaf retention lower on the stem). Priaxor should be applied 21 days before harvest. Seems like too early to be thinking of taking first cut, but 21 days from now is May 27. Research has shown that if you cut before 21 days you lose some of the benefits of spraying Priaxor. The harvest interval is 14 days between spraying and harvest. If you harvest later than 21 days you still gain benefit from Priaxor. BASF also presented some data in the winter that they saw effects the following cut as well, with faster regrowth. Something to consider for intensive alfalfa growers.
This is one thing you can do if the ground is too wet to plant. You will do some compaction but I suggest that the yield loss due to this compaction is not as great as yield loss due to letting the weeds get too big. Even if you are doing tillage before soybeans, consider a burndown so you do not have to live with root balls at planting and cultivator escapes later in the year. And when you are doing your burndown seriously consider a residual herbicide. Too many soybeans are planted without a residual herbicide. If you are going to work after the burndown, please check to make sure you can work the herbicide in.
Spraying Xtend Soybeans
If you are planning to use a dicamba product on your Xtend soybeans, things to consider. You can use the high rate of a dicamba product and expect to get 2-4 weeks of residual weed control of labelled weeds. Plus, you can only use the high rate once, if used in-crop, no more Dicamba applications for the year. If you wait until weeds are up, you will lose yield. When Roundup Ready soybeans started in Ontario there was a lot of talk of the “yield drag” This was because farmers were waiting for weeds to emerge before they were sprayed. The yield drag was not genetic but was due to weed competition. Let’s not make the same mistake with Xtend soybeans. The other thing is dicamba moves off green foliage more so than bare ground. If you wait for the beans and weeds to emerge you increase the probability of having your dicamba move from your field.
I was at a meeting where some one was suggesting forage soybeans as an alternative to alfalfa grass forage. Bad idea. Reasons not to. 1) The seed cost will be significant since you have to buy forage soybeans. Our normal soybeans will not have enough “forage quality” to be significant. 2) All of our recent resistant weeds in Ontario have started in soybean fields. Why would you want to put more acres into soybeans? 3) Of the main cash crops in Ontario, soybeans are the only one that destroys organic matter, and thus soil health. Forages consistently improve organic matter and thus should improve soil health. Instead of forage soybeans, plant a real forage. You can expect 2-3 tons of dry matter with a legume grass forage mix. And you will get some of this feed by early July. Even if it only lasts one year, it is better than forage soybeans.
Wheat Straw Length – (notes from Dr. Duane Falk formerly U. of G.) – Genetics is the main factor in straw length. Other factor determining wheat straw length is weather. (heat, length of day and intensity of light). Wheat changes from vegetative to reproductive depending on heat and light. Some varieties like the old R47 make the switch mainly based on heat. Thus, in hot years R47 plants switched over to reproductive early. Varieties like old lodging prone AC Morley, switch from vegetative to reproductive based on day length. If there is extra heat when it is still in vegetative mode it could produce another node and be taller than other years. The sunlight during elongation also affects straw length. If it is cloudy and cool from start of elongation until heading, the straw will be taller than if it is sunny during this time. Typically, straw length will vary but total straw dry matter will not change much. The cells merely get longer.
Too Late for Oats
All spring cereals yield better when planted early. Oats is the least affected by late planting. But once you get to May 10-15th oats yield will be significantly compromised. If you need the straw oats is still a good option. Later planted oats tends to be taller.
Alternate Products to Replace Straw
Lots of chatter about how scarce straw is. As a result, some livestock farmers are already switching from straw to sand for bedding and other products for fiber instead of wheat straw in the ration. There is some baling of corn stalks for bedding. I expect to see more soybean straw baled for fiber in dairy rations fall 2019. Point is consider selling straw now for a reasonable price as opposed to waiting for harvest and hoping to get a bigger price.
Glyphosate Rate Equivalency and Effective Rate
Many manufacturers are now running 540 grams active/L of product. The bigger question is, what rate should I be using control the respective weed?
Corn Stover Removal – Revisited
We covered this a few weeks ago. Still getting a few questions on it, so time to review it again. Easiest and the fairest to all parties involved is to price it laying in the field. Research suggests that 60% of potash value in the corn stalks will have leached out over the winter. The biggest drawback of baling stalks is delayed planting, and the risk of soil compaction. Balers are heavy, and the loads the bale wagons are carrying are even heavier. Keep these hidden costs in mind if you are approached to sell corn stalks. Minimum threshold I would be selling my stalks for is $0.02/lb. laying in the field.
Soybean Burndown Options
It’s hard to believe, but the weeds don’t get any smaller the longer you wait. If they were there in the fall, they will be there again in the spring. In most cases the rate will be based on the largest perennial in the field. Any newly germinated weeds will be controlled by the herbicide or rate selected for the perennial weeds. There are a few exceptions. 1) If you have glyphosate resistant summer annuals such as, Giant Ragweed, or Waterhemp, scouting will be critical to proper timing, and a tank-mix partner that controls the respective weed, 2) spring germinated Canada Fleabane, which should be assumed to be glyphosate resistant, will also require a tank-mix partner with the glyphosate.
"You don't need to be twice as good to get twice the results. You need to be slightly better and let it compound over time. The world will do the rest of the work for you." - Shane Parrish