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The Cropwalker - Volume 2 Issue 47

Always read and follow label directions.

December 2019 Complimentary Issue; Next complimentary issue will be March 3, 2020. To become a member and receive all issues, sign up at:


After becoming a member, you can view past members only issues at newsletter.fieldwalker.ca, plus any future issues will be emailed directly to your inbox. We also answer questions via phone/email as part of this membership.

Crop Conditions

Corn Harvest carries on. Probably 65-70% harvested by now. (If there is 2 M acres of corn planted then there are over 600,000 acres to harvest) There will be a lot of growers claiming crop insurance. Claims will not be big but an indication that yields on may farms are below the 5-10-year average. (Ontario 5 -year average as reported by OMAFRA 164 bu/ac, 10-year average 159) Stalk breakage is more evident. Many fields are broken above the cob. But when you go into the field stalk quality is not good. The last few days a lot of people have commented that when they walk through their field stalk quality is more obvious. The question that a lot are asking is do I harvest wet and get it over with or wait until spring? Nobody knows. Soybeans Still some out that will hopefully get harvested soon. Some soybean fields are clipped a bit high just to get them off. With 3.0 M acres planted 5-10% left in the field is 150,000-300,000 acres.


Will Corn Dry Down and Increase Bushel Weight in The Field?

Yes, to both questions. We have seen it many times. Corn will dry in the field. Typically, it will dry down to around 22-23% moisture and sit there. Then as we get closer to spring it will dry further. Probably down to 18% or so. Bushel weight increases as moisture is removed from the kernel in the field. The kernels shrink in size so take up less room and thus increase in bushel weight. Right now, bushel weight is not consistently improving at the dryer.

I Am Drying My Corn and Bushel Weight is Not Increasing?

The key to increasing bushel weight is slow drying. While it would be nice to crank up the heat so you can get more bushels through in an hour this will not increase bushel weight. I am not a dryer expert, but I know there are charts as to what is the best temperature for drying to increase bushel weight. Check with who ever sold you the dryer. Unfortunately, this year this wisdom is not happening in many cases. In fact, there are a lot of cases where grade is going down. Moisture loss cannot exceed ability of the grain to swell, or a drop-in test weight/grain quality issues will occur. A few pointers are available in this Field Crop News Article; https://fieldcropnews.com/2019/10/drying-and-storing-corn-with-low-test-weight/

What Is the Dollar Value of My Wet Corn If I Sell It to a Neighbour?

One way is to calculate what you would get if you delivered it to the elevator. In the table below the calculation is for 1 tonne of wet corn. I chose corn that would grade #2 and corn that would grade #5. Calculation for conversion to dry corn from wet corn is from Gocorn.net . You may have to do a freight adjustment, if selling off the field.

Table 1 - Value of Dry Corn in 1 MT of Wet Corn

Struggling with what to do? You may be eligible for the salvage benefit if you have corn that is: • Sample grade AND • Your grade 1-5 corn bushels are below your guaranteed level of production. The benefit pays for eligible bushels up to your guaranteed level of production.


How it works

Corn Production Insurance FAQs

I Am Looking at A Great Plains Drill and A Sunflower Drill. There Is $10,000 Difference in Price. Which Should I Buy?

You start by telling the salesperson what you expect from the drill. In this case it will be mainly used to no till forages into existing forage stands.

When faced with this type of decision you want to make sure you know the difference. Ask what the features and benefits of each drill are. Then you decide if the specific feature is of any value to you. If a feature is one drill works better in corn stalks, but you never plan to use it in corn stalks that feature is of no benefit to you.

Then it is nice to talk to a few growers who are using each drill.

Then you look at things like dealer knowledge and parts and services. Which dealer provides the best.

If you still can’t decide to ask why the one is more expensive. You ask the more expensive drill salesperson “what does it have that makes it $10,000.00 more expensive”. Again, you may not need the items that make it more expensive.

I Am Thinking About Making Changes to My Soybean Equipment. What Should I Be Looking At?

Farmer experience and research and on-farm-trials all suggest that planters do a better job. This is because of more even planting depth. There is significant data to show you can reduce seeding rate by 10% by using a good planter vs. a drill.

Then you look at where you are going. There are a number of growers who plant corn and soybeans on 20” rows. I believe in the future you will see more of this especially, in shorter growing seasons.  (In the US corn belt there is a trend to 30” soybeans. But they have a longer growing season). I believe that when you are looking at changes in your planting system, you need to take a long look at do I plant corn and beans in 20” rows, or do I plant corn in 30” and soybeans in 15”. If you want to do strip-till in corn and beans, 20” rows might be more advantageous at our latitude/growing season.

I Can’t Make It to All the Meetings

We made this comment last year, and one reader repeated it back to us multiple times. You can’t make it to everything, nor do you have to. Focus on mission critical for your operation. Look at the biggest issues for the next 1 to 5 years. Which events or meetings will address or provide content to help work through those challenges? It should be a combination of topics that challenge you, remind you and provided a different perspective. If something is happening at one of those meetings that is so revolutionary, you will hear about it on social media, the farm press, and from your peers/suppliers. Focus on what you can do to drive your business forward. And it is OK to work on a project on a laptop or paper if there is a speaker that does not interest you. If you plan on doing this etiquette, suggests you sit at the back. And don’t feel bad about leaving for a speaker that does not interest you. Go outside and get caught up on phone calls. Finally, it is okay just to show up for lunch. You can get a lot of networking done. It also assures the folks who put the meeting on that you are still a customer but very busy that day.

Grant Program Review

Several grant programs will be available over the winter. The starting point to access many of these programs and to provide a focus on where you can make the biggest difference on your business is having a current Environmental Farm Program, Growing Your Farm Profits, or Biosecurity workshop. Please visit https://www.ontariosoilcrop.org/oscia-programs/ for more information. If you were thinking of doing a worthwhile project to improve your farm business, consider using some of these available cost-share resources.

Black Layer?

I was asked the other day if a corn hybrid had black layered. Without going to the field, the seed rep had indicated the field was over 35% moisture in places. It didn’t black layer. What’s the yield hit for having corn that doesn’t black layer? See below. More information on frost damage in corn is available at: http://corn.agronomy.wisc.edu/Management/L041.aspx

Table 2 - Yield Losses by Crop Stage due to Frost

No-tilling Corn into Alfalfa Article

Reader feedback is they have seen no-till corn into alfalfa fail. Yes, after taking a cut off the field, trying to establish corn can fail in a dry year. The article discussing no-tilling corn into alfalfa, was with a fall burndown to terminate, first thing in the spring you no-till your corn, which has less chance of failure.

What Crop do You Excel At?

I figure that when I meet with a farmer, they are likely to excel at 1, maybe 2 crops. With any other crops that they grow as average or slightly below average that crops potential (not necessarily that area’s average). Mainly because you have limited equipment resources, attention and time span to get the necessary jobs completed during a growing season. Most farmers have one crop they really like and are good at growing. Focus on continuing to develop this skill.

Only You Can Make your Business Profitable

I read a post recently that suggested big ag is unable to make your farm profitable. In my opinion, every business or farm is doing the best they can at providing value to their respective stakeholders while trying to be a viable business. What that looks like depends on your individual relationships, values and resources. There may not be alignment with your business’s goals and aspirations and others in the marketplace. And that is okay.

Please Do Some Population Trials, Please?

Yes, I am asking you to do population trials. The seed companies provide a general idea for those that do not want to do them. But if you do them, go and count how many plants come up, and then again at harvest, count the number of harvestable plants/cobs/heads. Why? See chart below. Perhaps you do not have time to do this on every field or farm, pick a project field and see what you find/learn.

Table 3 - Harvestable Plants per Acre, What's your Score?

I Want a High Definition VR Population Map; How do I do This?

One way would be to do 3 rates of corn seed across the field in strips the width of your combine head. Use low (26,000), medium (32,000), high (38,000) seed rates, and then see where you get a response. Unless you are pushing your genetics to the edge within the field, you can’t tell when they start to break down (both low and high rates). You can have genetics yielding the same within a static seeding rate in a field, one is at maximum yield potential, the other could be pushed harder, but is currently leaving yield on the table. Do you have a better way? Please share. I have my ideas.

Figure 1 - Corn Hybrid Population Strips

Building for Margin of Error in a Fertility Program

Soil fertilizer planning has started for the 2020 growing season. This is a reminder that you should plan for redundancies in your fertility plan. Recently speaking with a prospective client, I asked them how they wanted to manage their fertility program. It depends on how “tight” you want to run your crop nutrition plan. Fiddle tight? Expect to do many passes, and extensive testing to achieve optimal response. Want one that is like the engine that runs on multiple fuel sources? Expect to give up some efficiency in trying to be “optimal”. Some nutrients you may want to run fiddle tight, others you may want to use the multi-fuel engine approach. Take your pick. And use the 4Rs.

Figure 2 - Three sides to Fertility Program Margin of Error

Fertilizer Efficiency vs. Effectiveness

There are companies that advertise that they have a very high fertilizer efficiency. I’m sure their products are serving a purpose in the market. There are also companies that have a “low” fertilizer efficiency but are very effective. As you wade through the many presentations this winter, don’t lose sight of effectiveness over efficiency. “That which is not worth doing, is not worth doing efficiently”. Ask the person positioning the product how effective it is when efficiency is brought up.

What ends as a big advantage starts as a small one and compounds over time. Stop looking for big gains and start grinding on the small ones you can repeat day after day.” – Shane Parrish