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The Cropwalker - Volume 2 Issue 40

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Crop Conditions

Weather Sunny and warm days last week had soybean harvest in some areas running at full capacity. A significant portion of Ontario received a killing frost which has stopped all corn and soybean growth. Then rain in many areas brought things to a halt. Soybean harvest is 25-80 % done depending on the area. Probably 50% of the province soybeans are off. Yields are variable but not as great as the last 2 years. Winter Wheat – in a recent harvest progress poll, many growers are suggesting they have a 100% of intended acres in. Either on unseeded acres or after soybeans/edible beans. Earliest fields are easily visible from the road. Corn silage harvest continues to be underway in most areas. Yield appear to be average or a bit less. Grain corn is the next focus. Parts of Ontario that received early frost will be looking at lower yields and low bushel weight. To get an idea of how corn will grade, pick 4 or 5 cobs, and leave them in a warm area to dry down. Once they are below 20% hand shell and take to an elevator. Northern Corn Leaf Blight (NCLB) started to show 2 weeks ago. The overall effect is uncertain. There will be hybrid differences.


Spraying Soybean Stubble for Perennial Weeds

If your soybean field has bindweed, perennial sow thistle or dandelions consider spraying this fall. These perennials weeds need to be sprayed at least three times (over multiple years) to get them under control. If they are present, consider spraying with glyphosate about a week following soybean harvest, or one good rain. You will not eradicate them with one spray but by weakening them, will eventually control them. You can get rid of bindweed and perennial sow thistle easier than you can reduce annual weeds, which keep coming back from seed in the soil. Tillage this fall will not help to control these perennial weeds.

Fall Manure Application

The past spring reminded us the value of not having to apply manure in the spring. Consider applying as much manure as possible this fall to prevent next year’s yield losses due to compaction and delayed planting. You can apply before planting wheat, or some research from Ohio is suggesting you can drag hose manure onto recently planted wheat, if it has not emerged. Or you can apply to soybean stubble, and then plant some cereal rye. Ohio newsletter had a reminder “As always, print out the weather forecast when surface applying manure. Remember the “not greater than 50% chance of 0.5 inches of rainfall in the next 24 hours” rule in the western Lake Erie watershed. Also be certain to observe the proper setbacks from ditches and streams.”

Tips to Avoid Compaction on Wet Soils

  1. Don't use grain bin extensions or fill the combine as full.
  2. Use wide tires with lower inflation pressures.
  3. Keep trucks out of the field. Consider unloading at the ends of the field, not on the go.
  4. Grain cart should track the same rows as the combine.
  5. Don't turn around in the middle of the field.
  6. Don't fill the grain cart as full, unload more often.
  7. Establish a grain cart path and stay on it.
  8. Don't till wet soils, as they are easily compacted.
  9. Use cover crops to help build soil structure.

If the soil was wet enough to form ruts during harvest, it's probably too wet to do tillage. Driving on or tilling wet soil causes compaction. While the wheel traffic compaction (loss of pore space) is easy to see as the lost space reappears as ruts, the full-width compaction resulting from tillage isn't as visible as the entire surface is compacted below the tillage depth.

If the combines and grain carts aren't leaving a rut, don't worry about compaction from the heavy equipment. Compaction is the loss of pore space between soil particles and occurs when that space is squeezed out of the soil and reappears somewhere else, such as in the form of a rut. If a rut wasn't formed, there was enough soil structure present to support the weight without causing additional compaction. A great example is when you play with playdough, after the air is out of the dough, it will form a shape.

(Notes on compaction from Paul Jasa Extension Engineer University Nebraska Lincoln)

Frost Damaged Corn

Frost that causes damage to leaves, but does not kill the stalk, allows for cannibalization of non-structural carbohydrates from the stalk tissue to the immature grain. That may be desirable in terms of minimizing yield losses, but the process physically weakens the lower stalk and increases its susceptibility to root and stalk rots (Nielsen, 2019b). Consequently, severe stalk lodging may occur before harvest, increases the risk of mechanical yield loss during harvest.

Complete and rapid whole plant death due to lethal freezing temperatures may result in affected immature plants literally collapsing to the ground. Not only does this create mechanical havoc with the eventual grain harvest, but ears literally lying on the soil surface for extended periods of time are prone to general deterioration and kernel sprouting.

in Following damage by a simple frost or death by lethal cold temperatures, the daily rate of dry down is not much different than grain moisture loss of corn that matures "normally" (Hicks, et al., 1976). HOWEVER, field dry down apparently is temporarily slowed or delayed immediately after such damage occurs and gives the illusion that overall field drying rates are slower. Nevertheless, frost or freeze damage will cause a delay in the grain reaching desirable harvest moisture contents, especially when the ensuing days following a frost/freeze event are cool and not conducive for rapid grain drying anyway.

Making silage from frost-damaged immature corn can be problematic because of excessive whole plant moisture, lower quality, possible mold development on the kernels, and stalk nitrate accumulation

Frost damage to immature corn may result in smaller than normal kernels, which are often misshapen and prone to breakage upon handling. These consequences can create problems with post-harvest grain drying, handling and storage.

(Notes from Dr Bob Neilson Purdue University)

Low Soybean Yields

I have spoken growers with are disappointed with 2019 soybeans. It’s a year where we had multiple aspects against having higher yield soybeans. Poor emergence meant higher than normal seed mortality, leading to less viable plants. Later seeding meant less branching than normal. Dry weather during grain fill meant smaller seed size than normal. If you experienced all three, the result was less than desirable amounts of soybeans in the bin.

What Cover Crop After Corn Silage?

Only two in my mind. 1) Cereal rye if your looking for something that can over winter. 50 lbs./ac is enough to hold soil in place. Could do winter wheat if you are looking for an actual crop. Winter wheat will provide a wider window in the spring for burndown if you decide to go a different direction. Add at least 300 K seeds/ac to your normal wheat seeding rate if seeding in the next week and hoping for a harvestable crop.  2) Oats at 40 or 50 lbs./ac if you’re looking to hold soil but want a cover crop that will eventually winterkill. The oats will not have impressive top growth, but that’s not the point, you just need roots to keep soil in place.

Can I Fall Apply Phosphate and Not Work It In?

Short answer is no, do not apply phosphate in the fall without working it in and/or have a living crop.

Winter Wheat – Yield Benefit to Even Emergence?

Research conducted in 1992 found that; 1) Wheat plants that emerged on day 1 to day 3 produced 1.4 times the yield of those that emerged on days 4-6, and 3.2 times the yield of those which emerged on days 7-9. When checking your wheat this fall, check your emergence rates, it may indicate adjustments are required.

(from Gan, Stobbe and Moes, published in Crop Science, Vol 32 Sept-Oct 1992.

What Can I Spray In-Crop in Winter Wheat In The Fall?

There are a number of products you could apply in the fall, most popular has been Infinity, mainly to control fleabane. Buctril M and Refine M are also options, but would not control fleabane. The following products are not supported for fall application; Pixxaro, Infinity FX. Regardless of product, wait until at least the 3-leaf stage.

Maximum Fertilizer Rate for Fall Strip Till?

In speaking with Dr. Tony Vyn at SWAC two years ago, he didn’t feel there was one for fall applied fertilizer. It’s more about what is practical. I would not recommend applying multiple years of phosphate or potash in a band if the following crops will not be growing in that band.

I Don’t Have A Million-Dollar Research &Development Budget

There is a saying that the best things in life are free. This also applies to on-farm R&D. Still have winter wheat to put in this fall? Try a new variety on a few acres. Adjust your seeding rate in a few increments (200,000 seeds/ac would be my suggestion). Adjust planting depth by ½” for a couple of swipes. Turn off your starter for a few hundred feet for one pass. Trials do not have to be expensive, but without the odd trial, it is hard to make incremental improvements.

"I believe in the discipline of mastering the best of what other people have figured out."

- Charlie Munger