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The Cropwalker - Volume 2 Issue 32

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Crop Conditions

Winter Wheat – Has finished across the province. There are three new soft reds that I would consider for 2020. C&M’s Blaze, Pioneer 25R74 and Brevant’s B654. Some of you may have grown them already, under a soft launch, or for seed production. Soybeans – Majority of crop in the R4 to R6 stage. We are on the home stretch. I have been finding “Florida” beans starting on the tops of plants. Drought stress continues to show up in areas of the field that have a moisture deficient, check these areas first for insect pressure. Break – next week we will be taking a break from our regular content. In place of our regular issue, we will share a previously unpublished article on turf care, now you can have the best-looking lawn on the block.


Save Oats for 2020

It’s seems to happen every year. Growers and retailers are looking high and low for old crop Oats to use as a cover crop. My suggestion? Keep ahead of your expected needs by one year. It will tie up bin space, and some cash flow, but long term will save you money and headaches.

Boron – Alfalfa Response

Still amazed at the number of fields without boron as part of the alfalfa fertility program. If you are seeing the upper leaves of the plant look like the photo below, you may have boron deficiency. OMAFRA data suggests that you could have crop responses of up to 1100 lbs/ac additional forage on deficient fields. Applying boron can improve forage quality, mainly by preventing leaf loss, as the leaves dry much faster than the stem when deficiency is present. These plants will also have a reduction in winterhardiness. I have visually seen hill tops/upper slopes of hay fields with essentially no alfalfa, and a relatively lush stand on the remainder of the field, even with manure applied. Boron is a critical part of an alfalfa fertility program.

Picture 1 - Red leaves can indicate Boron deficiency in alfalfa.

Decisions left for 2019, by crop

While out walking your fields, here are a few things to think about for the next 2 weeks while doing those walks…

Corn – You may have applied or not applied fungicides, check for leaf disease, according to the Crop Protection Network, Grey Leaf Spot is the main yield robber, although there has been Northern Corn Leaf Blight reported. Evaluate weed control effectiveness, make note of escapes/perennials. Determine if a “rescue” insecticide treatment is required (counts remain low at this time). Observe if fall tillage is required (if you normally no-till soybeans). See the impacts of uneven emergence, whether due to a rough seed bed, or planter induced seed-bed smearing. Continue to evaluate any side by sides.

Soybeans – Seeing stressed areas showing up in fields running out of moisture. Also seeing Downy Mildew, White Mould, low levels of insects (mainly grasshoppers in my field checks). Root systems on soybeans planted into wet soil conditions leave much to be desired. Pockets of yellowing in leaves. In some instances, it maybe Sudden Death Syndrome (check roots for Nematodes) or Brown Stem Rot (looks similar to SDS), in others, severe Mn Deficiency continues keep showing up. Evaluate weed control programs and determine if a pre-harvest will be required.

Site Specific Soil Sampling – Continued

As mentioned in an earlier issue, wanted to cover this topic further, as soil sampling has ramped up.

High Intensity Sampling – examples; Grid Sampling (1 or 2.5 ac), SoilOptix, etc.

Taking many samples, then building management zones.


1.     Picks up on uneven nutrient applications, especially when applied beyond crop removal, over large areas.

2.    Able to build separate management zones and application maps by nutrient.

3.    Works well on fields/farms that have had very different management practices and are now run as one unit.

4.    Well suited for high value, input intensive crops.

5.    May pick up on fertility issues/patterns that do not follow topography or soil typing, especially for lime applications.


1.     Building management zones with large amounts of data can be an expensive process; every time sampling is up for renewal, you might be starting back at ground zero to bring the data to a usable format.

2.    Risk of combining fertilizer response areas when collecting samples (especially with grid or static zone size).

3.    Requires an additional layer to build estimated crop removal (can’t do flat rate crop removal over the whole area, require a yield map).

4.    May not address non-fertility related reasons for uneven crop growth/response or provide a scouting template to identify those issues.

5.    Can be expensive for low input crops, best suited for applications requiring large amounts of inputs.

Response/Management Zone Sampling – examples; Yield Maps, Topography Layers, Soil Colour, etc.

Build management/fertility response zones, then pull soil samples.


1.     Well suited for lower value crops, by grouping expected response areas together, a lower number of soil samples can be pulled, possibly reducing sampling/lab fees.

2.    Once management zones are built, repeat sampling is relatively inexpensive.

3.    Fertility response zones may follow/reflect natural field topography (no hard lines or square edges)

4.    Can provide management zones for field scouting purposes, allowing in-season identification of issues, etc.

5.    May coincide with non-fertility limiting factors that affect final crop yield.


1.     Response zones may be inconsistent if a common process to find and identify zones is not developed. The entire process relies on having a strong methodology for the proper sorting of response areas. For example, if based upon yield, factors other than fertility may be causing low yield results (soil moisture, low plant population, etc).

2.    If point 1 is not well developed, risk of 5 people having 5 different methods for developing management zones, if there are 5 people building the maps (5 random monkeys on typewriter syndrome).

3.    May not pick up on uneven nutrient applications, especially when multiple fields are grouped together into a larger area (if all manure was spread onto one field, then was combined with 3 other fields, how do you account for past management?)

4.    Depending on the method used to build zones, you may not have available information as a starting point, especially if you have used yield maps as a starting point, i.e. when working on a new farm.

When will I get frost this fall?

This is a more in-depth look at the frost map published late last week. There will be local differences based upon topography, altitude, natural air drainage and proximity to water.  Cold air is more likely to flow into low-lying areas, thus, the plants at the bottom of a slope usually are the first to suffer frost injury. Local variations should be considered when looking at this data.

What is the definition of frost? When the air temperature reaches 0’C at 1.5 M (5 feet) above ground. For some crops, a killing frost may mean an air temperature of -2’C. Add 2 weeks to the dates in the 0C chart for -2C.

The chart is an accumulated risk of receiving frost. The first percentage, 10%, means your risk of frost is low, 1 in 10 years. At the 50% mark, you will have received frost in your area in 1 of 2 years. By 85%, you will have received frost in 8.5 out of 10 years by this point.

Having frost isn’t necessarily a bad thing, either. Last year we would have benefited from an earlier frost, simply to kill soybean plants earlier, to allow harvest to start earlier.

Map 1 - Ontario Frost Zone Areas
Table 1 - Risk of 0 Degree Frost by Zone by Date
Table 2 - Risk of -2 Degree Frost by Zone by Date

Is pelletized sludge a good soil amendment?

There are several sludge products on the market with a fertilizer license (no NASM plan required). Some products are either mixed with cement kiln dust (N-Viro), and/or are heat treated (Nutri-Pel, or LaSalle Agri Bio-Pellets), then dried and pelletized. The main difference between N-Viro and Nutri-Pel/Bio-Pellets, is that N-Viro contains some calcium and potash, whereas Nutri-Pel/Bio-Pellets have minimal calcium and potash, but higher amounts of nitrogen. All can be spread with a lime or manure spreader, then should be worked in to reduce smell and risk of off-site movement of phosphorus. To answer the title question, Is pelletized sludge a good soil amendment? If you require phosphorus to either build up soil P levels or for crop response, it can be a very economical source of broadcast P. Continue to use a starter P depending on soil test levels, as environmental conditions can limit phosphorus availability in the spring. Please note, there are application rate limits on these products, especially those made from cement kiln dust.

Table 3- Selection of Pelletized Sludge Products in Ontario

Corn N Rates – How close do I need to be?

With corn starting to fire up abit in some areas, mainly due to dry soil conditions, the inevitable question follows; did I put enough nitrogen on? Based upon data presented by Prof. Bill Deen at SWAC in January 2019, we have a target nitrogen rate to hit that is +/- 30 lbs N/ac. Why is the rate target area so flat from a response standpoint? The response curve is steep at lower rates, then starts to plateau as you add each addition pound of nitrogen. Much like riding a bike, the first few pushes on a pedal make a big difference as you move forward, but once at momentum, each push has less of an impact. My biggest takeaway from this session was that if you are going to delay your nitrogen application, adjust the rate using rainfall at the V7 to VT timeframe. Dr. Deen’s research shows that by doing this, you can increase your level of confidence (R2 factor) from 0.19 (using OMAFRA Corn N Calulator) to 0.49. (Corn N calculator + rainfall adjustment).

Graph 1 - Corn MERN by year (Elora Research Station)
Graph 2 - Corn MERN by Rainfall (Elora Research Station)

Winter Canola – What do I need to know?

Have been getting a few calls regarding winter canola, and whether it is a suitable crop to add to their or their client’s farming operation. Notes from Meghan Moran, OMAFRA Edible Bean/Canola Specialist and author’s experience.


Historically, both ADM and Bunge have crushed canola in Ontario. Check with your grain marketing partner to see if they have a bid into either one of those end-users. Not all elevators are set up to handle canola (extremely fine seed), so it may have to go direct to the end-user.

Field Selection

Your best winter wheat fields are ideal for winter canola. Winter canola requires well drained fields for winter survival. Fields that have considerable winterkill as winter wheat will leave you disappointed.


One passing comment Meghan Moran made is that producers expect it to yield higher than spring canola, 2500 to 3000 lbs/ac (5o to 60 bu/ac) has been repeatable for a few producers.


Only one hybrid available, C&M Seeds is the distributor of the hybrid “Mercedes”. Check sooner than later for seed availability, as we are quickly approaching the optimal seeding window. Meghan Moran, OMAFRA Edible Bean/Canola specialist indicated that a few growers have also been bringing in hybrids from the US under the “own import” license process.

A big issue with Winter Canola is seeding too thick. This can lead to goose necking the following spring, as the crown sits too high above the soil. Should be talking seeds per acre, but most growers are in the 3-4 lbs/ac range. Use 3 lbs/ac if seeding with a planter.

Optimal seeding date varies by where you are in the province, majority should be planted by September 10th to provide time for the plant to develop a crown to survive the winter.

Weed Control

Most Ontario winter canola is grown without herbicide tolerance (conventional). This means only 1 broadleaf herbicide in-crop (Lontrel, which is labelled for spring canola, but crop safe), and a handful of grass herbicides in-crop (Assure II being the most popular). It is very much a start clean, stay clean scenario until it reaches later stages of plant development, when it can smoother out any germinating weeds. Treflan/Rival/Bonanaza is available as a pre-plant-incorporate herbicide, but it must be worked in within 24 hours.

Meghan has written a good article on burndown options, you can read it here; http://fieldcropnews.com/2019/08/winter-canola-sensitivity-to-herbicides/


Plan on a minimum of 30 to 40 units of N in the fall, seed placed phosphorus (would suggest at least 40-5o P2O5/ac) and 10 units of S/ac. Canola is a heavy user of potash,  broadcast N, K and S together and incorporate, then banding the phosphorus is a good plan. The following spring plan on 120 N and another 10-20 units of S/ac.


Emergence wise, the biggest risk is slug feeding. In fields with heavy residue, keep an eye on the number of slugs feeding on plants. Swede midge typically isn’t a concern. Will have to scout for cabbage seed pod weevil with a sweep net as canola starts to flower.

In what we hope is a thick canopy, white mould can be a big concern, plan on spraying with a white mould fungicide (typically Proline) at 20-30% flower.

Plug for Saugeen Conservation Authority...

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