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The Cropwalker - Volume 2 Issue 38

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Crop Conditions

Weather rains were sporadic. Some areas got more soybeans off and wheat planted than other areas. Winter wheat some areas where crops were not planted this spring have 60% of the intended acres planted. Other areas like north Huron have 25% planted while Lambton and area has few acres planted. Consider 1.6-1.8 M seeds/ac this week. Soybean harvest ranges from 0-25% harvested. Generally, yields are good where there was rain, to 70-80% of long-term average in many areas. Beans in drought stressed areas are running 25 bu/ac. Hopefully later beans will be better.  My prediction of 40-42 bu/ac across Ontario still stands. Hopefully soybean harvest will resume, and we can get more wheat in. Corn – continues to slowly advance a lot is at 25-50% milk line. Earliest almost at black layer.

NOTE We will repeat ideas/thoughts on different topics. We do this because some issues are relevant to different growers at different times. Also, we know that you don’t read everything every week and if you do you may not remember everything. We are trying to give you information that is relevant the week you read it.


Allowing for Margin of Error in Your Fertility Plan

There are two trains of thought, 1) you manage for optimum across all your inputs, ensuring everything is applied at “just” the right rate, or 2) you apply, knowing there is a margin of error, either through excessive applications, or, through proper timing/placement/source. In all likelihood, you need a bit of both 1 and 2.

Let’s take phosphorus for example. You will likely have areas of fields that would not respond to an application of phosphorus, but the cost of acquiring the data at a high-enough resolution to determine that may be more than the potential savings, as you must map and test the entire field, not just the areas with low probability of response.

What should you do instead? If you subscribe to placing phosphorus as a starter, to maximize fertilizer efficiency and crop response, there will be areas of the field where it may not pay, but the question isn’t if it pays, the question is, I need to apply this input anyways for crop removal purposes, or for crop response purposes, which method is the best way of getting a response regardless of soil test or can account for margin of error? And for that reason, is why a portion of your phosphorus needs should be applied with a drill or planter, to take out some of the variability within the field and the soil testing procedure/methodology.

The “right” economic rate for many of these nutrients is much wider than most agronomist may care to admit, but by combining the 4Rs of nutrient stewardship (Rate, Place, Source and Timing), you will enhance crop needs without incurring excessive costs and reducing environmental impact. The right way to think about a fertility program is, how do I manage for field variability, such that, my application method or material is covered, even if I am wrong in parts of the field?

How to Measure Wheat Planting Depth When There Is a Lot of Trash

You must figure out what the soil will be like when the soil has settled after the fall rains. One way is to take a 2X4 board 1-2 feet long, stand on it to squash the soil. Longer or wider boards will not squish the soil as much. Then dig down into this squished soil. Planting depth should be 1-1 ¼” deep. You must check multiple areas in the field. Typically, headlands and knolls are where seed will not be as deep.

Rate of Corn Dry Down

Is very dependent on relative humidity, air temperature and winds. It is also dependent on corn hybrids. Hybrid characteristics that determines dry down include: Kernel Pericarp Characteristics – The pericarp is the outermost layer of a corn kernel (botanically; the ovary wall). Thinner or simply more permeable pericarp layers have been associated with faster drying rates in the field. Husk Leaf Number – The fewer the number of husk leaves, the more rapid the grain moisture loss. In fact, modern hybrids have fewer husk leaves than those commonly grown years ago. Husk Leaf Thickness – The thinner the husk leaves, the more rapid the grain moisture loss. Husk Leaf Senescence – The sooner the husk leaves senesce (die), the more rapid the grain moisture loss. Husk Coverage of the Ear – The less the husk covers the tip of the ear, the more rapid the grain moisture loss. Husk Tightness – The looser the husk covers the ear, the more rapid the grain moisture loss. Ear Declination – The sooner the ears drop from an upright position after grain maturation to a downward position, the more rapid the grain moisture loss. Husks of upright ears can "capture" rainfall. The moisture leaves the ear through the kernels. No moisture leaves the ear through the cob. You can expect corn to dry down at about 0.4 % moisture per day after black layer formation. Corn at black layer is 30-35% moisture. Expect corn to be at 28% 3-4 weeks after black layer. (notes from Dr Bob Neilson Purdue University)

Push Test for Stalk Strength

Lots of problems in the US with corn stalk quality issues. In some areas corn is already lodging. Several diseases and growing conditions are causing these stalk rots. To do a “push test” walk into your field, randomly select a minimum of 100 plants representing a large portion of the field. Push the plant tops away from you approximately 30 degrees from vertical. If plants don’t snap back to vertical when released, the stalk may have been compromised by stalk rot disease. An alternative method is to PINCH the internodes of the lower stalk. If the stalks crush easily by hand, their integrity has been reduced by stalk rot and they are prone to lodging. If more than 10% of plants exhibit stalk rot symptoms, then harvesting that field first should be a priority. (notes from University Nebraska-Lincoln CROPWATCH newsletter)

Converting wet corn to dry corn

Corn is traded at 15% moisture. If you are harvesting wetter corn you want to know how much dry corn you have.

In the case there is 10,000 lbs. corn at 30% = 7,000 lbs. dry matter (10,000 /70)

7,000 lbs. dry matter = 7,000/.85 = 8235 lbs. 15% moisture corn

8235 lbs. 15% moisture corn = 147 bu

Soybean Straw for Bedding

One reader tells us he is successfully harvesting soybean straw. Getting about 1,000 lbs./ac. He will use it for bedding for dairy cattle. At current wheat straw, it is worth $60-80 per acre, and makes seeding wheat a bit easier.

Handling Cover Crops

The question is when to spray them off. And what to use. The answer depends on what weeds are also there, and what tillage you will be using. If you have perennial sow thistle and or vetch, consider spraying right now. The addition of dicamba to glyphosate will improve control. In the Huron county area, these weeds will go dormant very soon, in Essex, they will grow another 10-14 days or so. You will get more mass from the cover crop by waiting, but you want to control these weeds. If you have red clover, use dicamba plus Roundup. The other issue, if you do not have perennial weeds is what tillage you will use. If using conservation tillage, you want the soil to be dry. That means by spraying now, you should have dry soil conditions in October to be able to do conservation tillage without smearing the soil. If you are mould board ploughing, you can wait. But mould board ploughing defeats some of the benefits of a cover crop.

Planting Cover Crops Now

Lots of opportunity to build organic matter and preserve soil structure. If you are not planting wheat on bean ground, consider planting cereal rye. Cereal rye does not have the disease complexes that wheat does. One cover crop specialist suggested a combination of black winter oats, with spring barley and spring oats, if you are looking for a mix that works with spring tillage.

Budget for Landscaping

One area of weed control I see that suffers on many farms is when a new building project is completed, or a building is torn down. Then the burdocks, fleabanes, pigweeds, ragweeds take over the mounds of soil pushed aside. These areas provide a seed bank to ensure that weeds continue to show up in your fields. If you are considering a project, or have a few projects in various stages of progress, add a few days of trim dozer work into the budget to make those areas are accessible to a mower, or are turned back into farmland.

Weed Control 203

Not all application timings for weeds are equal. For some weed species, such as perennial sow thistle, one properly timed pre-harvest application will do more to reduce the population than all other in-crop applications combined. To do an excellent job of weed control, you must understand the weed’s yield impacts by crop, and it’s susceptible timing for control. For perennial sow thistle, this is when it has green leaf tissue during the reproductive phase, as plant sugars are relocating into the root system and will take herbicide with it (even if it had finished flowering). Work with plant biology, not against it. Pictures below had spring tillage, if you no-tilled winter wheat, the root system will be more extensive.

Picture 1 - PST Root System (right side cut off by shovel)
Picture 2 - PST Roots - Much easier to kill these growing points in the fall

Weed Control Cost by Effectiveness

We all balk at cost. What you are really buying with herbicides is product effectiveness. When looking at product cost, don’t forget to also look at percentage control. A common one is just using Roundup, because the add ins are too expensive. But there are weeds that Roundup isn’t very effective on or have been selected for resistance.

What Herbicide Should I use for Burndown this fall?

Well, it depends on the weed spectrum, see table below.

Table 1 - Weed Control by Herbicide

Glyphosate – What is a REL?

When glyphosate (Roundup Original) was first on the market, it was marketed as 360 grams per L active ingredient. Most of the research was done at this concentration and there are now many products on the market at higher concentrations. To ensure everyone is on the same page, the term “relative equivalent liter” or REL was developed, this ensures every is talking the same amount of active. Majority of the product sold in Ontario today is of the 540 grams/L formulation, meaning 1 REL/ac is 0.67 L/ac of product, and 2 REL/ac is 1.33 L/ac of product.

Table 2- Gylphosate Rate Chart

What Rate of Dicamba Again?

Table 3 - Dicamba Rates

Message from BASF on Eragon use now

Eragon LQ is still the product-of-choice for late-season pre-harvest burndowns

Use the 59.2mL/ac rate in all cases, as well as the proper surfactant Merge, and high-water volumes >25gpa (check with your end user, some only allow the 29 mL/ac rate with glyphosate)

Apply during mid-day, when the sun is high, and weed metabolism is active. Avoid applications when dew is present or forming. Even if all technical recommendations are followed precisely, late-season burndowns can be very inconsistent, especially if the weather is frequently cool or overcast. Seed Bank Management is not on the table from here forward. Primary objective is to dry off weeds for ease of harvest.

"Simple -> Complicated -> Simple

At first things appear simple. As you learn more they become complicated. As you learn even more, they become simple.

Simplicity on the other side of complexity is understanding."

- Shane Parrish