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The Cropwalker - Volume 2 Issue 4

By Jonathan Zettler CPA, CMA, CCA-ON and Patrick Lynch CCA-ON  •  Issue #18

Always read and follow label directions.


Dicamba on Dicamba Resistant Soybeans

Projections are for 30% or more dicamba resistant soybeans to be planted in Ontario in 2019. That is 1 million acres of soybeans could be sprayed with dicamba. Recent surveys suggest that 75% of Ontario farmers have not taken a course on using dicamba on soybeans. Last year there were some issues with off target movement of dicamba affecting non dicamba tolerant crops. Many of these were caused by dicamba movement due to inversions. If you are planning to use these new varieties and have not taken a course on the use of dicamba on dicamba tolerant crops consider doing it. Ask your inputs supplier. BASF plans to set up an on-line course. We will let you know when this is up.

How hard do you push?

When working within a biological system there are many tools that can be used to produce a crop. It is your management and resources that determines how you choose the tools. For example, you decide to grow continuous soybeans. As part of that management decision you decide that glyphosate is the tool you would like to use repeatedly; a) its cheap and b) it works. The harder you push your system in one direction, the more it will try to reach equilibrium. In this case the selection for weeds that have tolerance or ability to resist glyphosate is quite high without any other modes or methods to reduce the selection pressure. Several crop protection meetings this winter have commented on managing how hard we push our selection pressure. This is especially critical in fields with only 1 or 2 crops and related herbicide systems in “rotation”.

Consistent Response

There are very few things that will provide a yearly consistent response. The best you have to work with is playing the odds for a weighted average and figuring out if it works. In the last issue there was a comment from Chris Boersma (SWAC 19) that he uses a 30% return 70% of the time for his selection criteria. The question is where does that 70% of time exist? As you work through 2019 crop planning, ask yourself, would I expect to get a response on this field? When have I gotten as response from using this management decision in the past? What is my educated guess on getting a response? These questions should help you fine tune your cropping decisions.

Vertical Crop Growth

At CropSmart 19, Crop-Tech Agronomist, Ken Ferrie, commented the fastest way to increasing crop yield is by building a vertical crop system. By this he means removing barriers that limit roots from having access water and nutrients lower in the soil profile. In his opinion the best tools to gauge this are a shovel and a tile probe. Use a shovel to dig up roots and inspect for compaction or density layers, and a tile probe to determine the depth or thickness of those layers.

One equipment tid-bit

If there is one critical piece of equipment information I have picked up over this past year, it is to have FLOATING row cleaners on planting equipment. Fixed row cleaners or a leading disc could be working against you in most situations.

Importance of on-farm trials

Last week we suggested a % of your acres should have on farm trials. This is to prove what you have learned or read over the past year on your soils and management capability prior to making changes to your system. One of the biggest challenges when trying something new is the management capability to actually execute on it. Marion Calmer of Alpha, IL spoke at SWAC about getting no economic response on his no-till corn P&K trials. In his management system he was unlikely to get a response due to how he was placing the product. This is why it is important to do on farm trials, what works conceptually at the neighbor’s may not work at your farm simply because you do not work your soil.

Strip Till Management Factors

Continuation from last week, in no particular order.

5) Herbicide selection and timing – A possible oversight is that either a late-season fall burndown or, an early season burndown in the spring prior to planting, is required to keep winter annuals and perennial weeds in check. There may be an opportunity to put on pre-emerge with the spring burndown. Watch product selection, especially if the burndown occurs prior to the final strip-tillage pass. Not all pre-emerge products can be worked in.

Picture 1 - Burndown weed control is essential in Strip Till

6) Strip till unit selection factors –Berm width is typically 8-10”, depth can be 4” with disc style units, to 8” with a shank style. Agronomist have commented that growers run out of h.p. on some soil types at depths greater than 6”. A general census is that a shank unit is better for use in the fall, and tends to leave the fertilizer in a band at the bottom of the trench. Disc style units tend to work shallower, mix the fertilizer more within the soil profile and be better suited for stones, spring strips or for refreshing (2nd pass). Fertilizer safe rates will limit the type and timing of fertilizer application. Focus on getting P&K into the strip either through the strip till unit or the planter’s starter fertilizer. Nutrients such as N, S and B are water soluble and are less critical to have placement in the strip.

7) Planter selection and setup – CCA Ryan Benjamins commented that fall strips without a spring refresh typically require a row cleaner on the planter to move wind-blown trash off the strip. Ideally the planter should match up with the unit creating the strips, and have the same pivot point to minimize the amount of time off the row. Starter fertilizer can still be critical when planting into cold or low fertility soils, but will have less of an impact if essential nutrients have been banded.

How is Cold Weather Affecting Wheat?

Really no problem yet. While we have had cold weather, this is common in Ontario this time of year. Some areas of Kent Essex, Lambton experience this cold without much snow cover many years. Wheat goes through a process of “winterizing” by gradually removing water from the cells so that remaining cells have a high nutrient content. It is their anti-freeze. Then as spring arrives wheat plants take on water and the cells expand. What wheat does not like is a lengthy warm period where wheat starts to grow and then a sudden drop in temperature. This has not happened yet.

Plan B for Acquiring Straw

In case your winter wheat does not survive and you need straw, good to have a plan B. There are some acres of cereal rye around the country planted as a cover crop. If these fields are destined for beans, they can be harvested for straw. Might want to spray off with Roundup to kill them early and any weeds. Nutrient value would be less than 2 cents a pound. Once removed it will be easier to no till soybeans into them. There should be no difference in doing this vs. spraying off early at 2-4” high as far as negative affect to soybeans.

Should Spring Applied Manure be Incorporated?

Research presented by Glen Arnold Ohio State University Extension addressed this at SWAC 2019. His research from 2011-2016 indicated a definite yes. They had corn at 31,000 plants. They achieved to apply 200 units N as either fertilizer or manure plus fertilizer. Check yielded 60 bu/ac. They looked at various combinations of dairy or hog manure surface applied or incorporated, either pre-emergent or post emergent up to V-3. There was a 20-25 bu/ac yield increase by incorporating manure.

Manure Strategy Spring 2019

A bit more manure to spread this spring because of wet weather last fall adding water, and preventing fall applications. 1) If it is too wet to plant it is too wet to spread manure with a tanker. Consider planting corn first on fields that had fall manure then plant more aces that do not have manure. Once ground becomes dry start to spread manure for corn. Do not try to get every acre spread but rather put as much on per acre as allowed by your Nutrient Management plan. This will minimize the amount of compaction. Even if this means only going part way down the field with the tanker. 2) Consider drag hosing manure onto wheat at green up. 3) You can drag hose manure on to emerged corn up to 4 leaf-over without damaging the corn. 5) Applying manure to soybean ground is not the best use of manure but beats compacting corn ground and getting a poor yield.

You asked “How does global warming affect crops?”

Global warming is real. Here in Ontario the effects are positive. The biggest change with Global Warming is an increase in CO2. While some contend, we are not experiencing Global Warming, all agree that CO2 levels are increasing. Since plants use CO2, the higher the levels of CO2, the higher the yield. Also, Global warming is giving us more heat to grow crops. This is great for corn and soybeans, but not so good for alfalfa. But the extra CO2 negates the heat factor for alfalfa.

What is Happening to Honey Bee Populations?

The overall population of honeybees in Canada, the US and Europe has held steady or increased slightly since the widespread adoption of neonics in the 1990s. The US honeybee population hit a 22-year high in 2016 according to figures released by USDA. It dipped slightly last year (2017). Globally honeybee numbers are at an all-time high.

From the archives. Is this still valid now?

Yields Lowered when using Same Herbicide Groups (Jan 2001) A 3-year study by private researchers indicated that if full rate post emergent ALS herbicides are used in both corn and beans, there can be a yield decrease. Their study consisted of a corn-soy rotation where each crop was treated with full rate of ALS or non-ALS herbicides. Their results suggested up to 8% yield decrease if only ALS herbicides were used, compared to using ALS and non-ALS herbicides. The inference is that when ALS herbicides are used, there is carryover. If ALS are used the following year, there is enough stress on the plant in breaking down that carryover herbicide once it tries to breakdown the new post applied herbicide. Does this sound similar to the yield reduction we felt we were getting when soybeans treated with a triazine (Sencor/Lexone) followed corn treated with a triazine (atrazine)? The solution sounds like we should be switching herbicides groups for more reasons than weed resistance. Herbicide carryover is also important

Spraying Fungicides May Increase Insect Numbers (Jan 2009)– I have heard various comments from various speakers that, “When you apply a fungicide to a soybean crop you can increase the insect numbers.” This increase in insect numbers can take away from the yield advantage that might have been possible from disease control. Many insects are naturally controlled by fungi. If you control these fungi when you are spraying with a broad-based fungicide, you may also be controlling the fungus that controls insects. One high soybean yield producer from the U.S. (SWAC 2009) stated that when he sprays a fungicide on his soybeans, he includes an insecticide.

"Better to be approximately right vs. precisely wrong" - Warren Buffett