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The Cropwalker - Volume 2 Issue 29

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Crop Conditions

Weather – we are about 100 CHUs behind normal CHU accumulation. But much of the crop was not planted until we collected 4-500 CHUs. Wheat is about 2 weeks behind normal and corn and soybeans 2-3 weeks behind.  For many who switched corn hybrids their fields are about 7-10 days behind. This year compares somewhat to 2014, when we were 7-10 days behind normal at the end of July. Winter wheat - harvest is picking up speed. One of our readers in Clinton area reports yields of over 100 bu/ac. Grade is #2, bushel weight is 62 and moisture started at 18%. A reader in the Kirkton area had 95 bu/ac of hard red and got protein. Yields of good-looking wheat are average. Wheat harvest has started in Lambton County, and, as far east as Picton. Straw yields are good at around 2500-4000 lbs/acre. Prices for straw range form 6-8 cents/pound. This $150-300 per acre makes wheat a worthwhile crop. You can afford to give up some soybean bushels to get these wheat numbers. Don’t worry about selling a bit of organic matter in wheat straw. Sell it and plant a cover crop. Corn – earliest fields are tasseling and silking. Time for fusarium control is when 75% of the plants have 1” of green silk until the silks turn brown. Spraying after this can control leaf diseases but has no effect on fusarium levels. Soybeans – first and middle planted are past the recommended time for spraying for mould control. Later plantings may be at right time for spraying for mould. There are a number of other diseases such as pod and stem blight that can be controlled with fungicides. Last year pod and stem blight caused some yield loss (on the survey published 2 weeks ago, it was the number 2 yield robber, behind white mould).

Picture 1 - Winter Wheat almost ready for harvest


Insect Watch

Leaf hoppers are still alive and well in unsprayed alfalfa and edible bean fields. Some talk of spider mites. Keep watching outside of soybean fields. Western bean cutworm moth numbers are increasing in southern areas of the province. Keep checking your fields and talking to your dealer as to what is being found in your area. For the interactive insect map, check the link below to see what trap counts are in your area. https://fieldcropnews.com/2019/04/welcome-to-the-great-lakes-and-maritimes-pest-monitoring-network/

Summary White Mould Control in Soybeans

Research compiled by Chris Gillard at the University of Guelph, Ridgetown Campus, suggests the following. In research plots that are inoculated with white mould spores and irrigated to encourage mould to grow, Stratego Pro and Acapela are rated the best. Other products give some control or suppression of mould but have not been as effective as Stratego Pro or Acapela. Trial results can be found at https://www.ridgetownc.com/research/profile_cgillard.cfm

Summary of products for Fusarium and other disease control in Corn

I have reviewed all the information I can get my hands on. If I have missed something, or some research please send to me. The best products to control both Fusarium and some other leaf diseases in corn, in no particular order, Miravis Neo (meer -a-vis), a new product from Syngenta. There may be up to 5 products in Ontario called Miravis (all with one common active but registered for different crops). Miravis Neo is the corn product. It is registered at 0.3 to 0.5 L/ac. At 0.3 L/ac you control leaf diseases. At 0.4 L/ac you control leaf diseases and expect a 50% reduction in DON. The 0.5 L/ac gives more DON protection., Proline at the high rate of 0.17 L/ac for DON and stalk rot suppression, the lower rate of 0.128 L/ac only provides leaf disease control. Headline AMP at 0.3 L/ac + Caramba at 0.2 Lml/ac. from BASF. Caramba gives fusarium control and Headline provides plant health and stay green.

How does Fusarium infect corn kernels?

The article above explains how corn is pollinated. I believe that the fusarium spore lands on the silk. Then once the pollen grain lands on the silk it pushes or caries the fusarium spore to the kernel to start the infection. Once infected you need a susceptible hybrid and the right weather conditions to allow fusarium to grow.

Corn Pollen Shed and Pollinating

Most hybrids tassel and silk about the same time. Pollen shed occurs in the morning between 9:00 and 11:00 a.m. followed by a second round late in the afternoon. Pollen shed begins in the middle of the central spike of the tassel and spreads out later over the whole tassel with the lower branches last to shed pollen. Pollen grains are born in anthers. Each anther contains a large number of pollen grains. The anthers open and the pollen grains pour out after dew has dried off the tassels. Pollen is often carried considerable distances by the wind. But most of it settles within 20 to 50 feet. Pollen grain remains viable for 18 to 24 hours. The pollen grain starts growth of the pollen tube down the silk channel within minutes of coming in contact with a silk. The pollen tube grows the length of the silk and enters the female flower (ovule) in 12 to 28 hours. A well-developed ear shoot should have 750 to 1,000 ovules (potential kernels) each producing a silk. The silks from near the base of the ear emerge first and those from the tip appear last. Under good conditions, all silks will emerge and be ready for pollination within 3 to 5 days. This usually provides adequate time for all silks to be pollinated before pollen shed ceases. Pollen of a given plant rarely fertilizes all the silks of the same plant. Under field conditions 97% or more of the kernels produced by each plant may be pollinated by other plants in the field. The amount of pollen is rarely a cause of poor kernel set. Each tassel contains from 2 to 5 million pollen grains, which translates to 2,000 to 5,000 pollen grains produced for each silk of the ear shoot.

What to do after wheat harvest

After soil testing, apply P&K using whatever method of application you have chosen. Phosphorous should be incorporated. This incorporation will also kill off annual weeds. If you have red clover consider clipping it as closely as possible. This will reduce the number of annual weeds that set seed. Clipping red clover will encourage it to grow back. What about spraying MCPA Ester for weed control, if you have red clover? I suggest you do not do this. MCPA will set clover back and it should grow back. However, ester formulations are prone to volatilization. The risk of volatilization is not as great as with dicamba but during summer months the risk is too high for me. Liming if you need to correct pH after wheat is a great time to do this. There is still no way to raise pH without incorporating lime.

Cover crops after winter wheat

The first choice is oats. It is economical, it will die out over winter, if fertilized it can produce a significant amount of forage. The root system is a grass, so it works the topsoil. One of our readers adds one or two pounds of sunflower. He doesn’t believe they do a lot for the soil, but they are very visible to the urban folks. This shows them that you are looking after the soil. The addition of other species such as radish may be of value. Researchers are still working on these to assess their worth. There are numerous other species that you can try. If you want forage this fall and next spring, seeding a forage type annual rye grass should give a cut of forage this fall and again next spring. Then next spring you can seed soybeans or edible beans once the grass is harvested. If seeding a cover crop for forage you must manage it. For oats, rye grass, and other species you need 40-50 lbs/ac of actual N either as manure or fertilizer. If seeding oats, you will need to spray a fungicide to control rust. Cereal rye is a great cover crop. Lots of information to show it significantly reduces the amount of fleabane that grows. It will not supply fall forage, but will supply forage next spring.

I need feed, what should I plant after wheat?

After exploring quite a few options with Kevin Crispin at Speare Seeds, his recommendation for fall feed is Oats. It has the highest probability of success for the cost/availability/management.

Grants for Planting Cover Crops

Some Conservation Authorities offer a grant program (with criteria and maximum amounts/cost-share) to plant cover crops. Check with your local CA for details/availability. Programs vary from CA to CA.

Why Soil Sample?

To make a management decision on whether to invest in fertilizer, organic materials or soil amendments. It provides a general indication if you would get a response, and how much of a response. A low soil test results for a particular nutrient has a much higher probability of response than a high soil test result on the same soil type.

What can affect soil test results over time?

What did the field start with; parent material, native vegetation, climate

Additions; manure, fertilizer/soil amendments, cover crops, crop rotation

Losses; water (even nutrients such as phosphorus can move through the soil landscape in water), crop removal, soil erosion (tillage, wind, water), excavation

Weather conditions; wet or dry soil conditions can affect fixation of nutrients on clay particles

Soil type; some soils have limited ability to retain nutrients, soils with clay content will hold different amounts of nutrient depending on clay type and %.

I want to do site specific soil sampling, what should I use?

Rather than talk specific products or services, you have two options.

1)    Soil sample or map the field so intensively that you can build a georeferenced map of the field. The map is generated by making pixels or a grid of the soil tests, and, then generating the management zones from those pixels or grids.

2)    Use a model to generate soil sample response zones. Then sample each response zone separately. The map is generated from the response zones, with the soil tests indicating the probability of response in those zones.

Will cover this further in a future issue.

Return on investment – Great, Good, and Poor Crops

Often the question in years like this is, should I invest more in my crop? Each situation will depend on available resources, timing, and past experiences with the practice in question. A good starting point is to understand the worst-case scenario, and what the probability of response would be. Keep variable costs in mind when working through a scenario. When the sales rep shows up touting it’s only a 2 bu/ac response required to break-even, don’t forget to account for application, drying (on the whole crop), check-off fees and trucking for the additional “2” bushels. The elevator price isn't paid at the field.

Spread your chaff if you are dropping straw

Last year I was attended a cover crop event organized by the local conservation authority and a grower had commented that they were having trouble with bands of volunteer winter wheat in their Oat cover crop/green feed. They had hoped to cut it for green feed but were disappointed with the variability of the stand. The main reason was all the chaff had been dropped into the windrow. To eliminate this issue in the future, spread chaff as wide as possible (also check for grain loss). If your combine or your custom operator doesn’t have a chaff spreader, it’s time to find someone who does.

Do you know your grain loss number?

One of the last management decisions to be made before the crop hits the bin is combine settings. How many producers measure the amount of material coming out of the back of the combine? My guess is that many “check” to ensure losses are acceptable, but if you do not “measure”, you will not know if you are doing a great job. This means running the machine at maximum capacity until the losses become unacceptable. The best operators have 0.5 to 1 bu/ac harvest loss. The following resources could help gauge and identify possible sources of harvest loss. As a rule of thumb approximately 17-18 kernels of wheat per square foot = about 1 bu/ac harvest loss.

K-State - Wheat Harvest Settings

Factsheet on setting a combine up for winter wheat


Canola Council of Canada Harvest Loss Tables

Factsheet on harvest loss tables and suggested improvements

Looking for a tool to measure losses with? I highly recommend the Bushel Plus system, that former co-worker Marcel Kringe developed while managing a harvest crew. An interview below with Marcel.

Bushel Plus Multi Calibration System on Twitter: "We caught up to Jonathan Zettler @ZRAgri from @FieldwalkerAg about loss tests in #OntAg and you'll be shocked to hear the numbers he's seen. #harvest18 #agtwitter… https://t.co/wSEwP4LgAa"

Bushel Plus Multi Calibration System on Twitter: "We caught up to Jonathan Zettler @ZRAgri from @FieldwalkerAg about loss tests in #OntAg and you'll be shocked to hear the numbers he's seen. #harvest18 #agtwitter… https://t.co/wSEwP4LgAa"

A one minute discussion on harvest losses

“It’s okay to be discouraged. It’s not okay to quit.”

- Ryan Holiday