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The Cropwalker - Volume 2 Issue 48

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Crop Conditions

Corn just for the record, the corn crop is about 85% harvested. That means maybe 400,000 acres to go. Latest harvest on record. Some areas are worse. Central and eastern Ontario have areas where at least 50% of the corn is out. In this area there is a shortage of forage feed. There is an opportunity for farm to farm sales of high moisture corn. Last week we gave you numbers to show high moisture corn is worth $115-150 / wet tonne of corn. Your number is dependent on moisture and possible grade. Still at an average of $135/wet tonne it is worth $550-600 /acre. Maybe better in some cases than waiting for spring. Due to current weather conditions, some acres will have to wait to be harvested. Soybeans estimate is that at least 4% or 120,000 acres still to be harvested. Bad, but not as bad as Western Canada, where 13% or 2.3 Million acres of canola are still unharvested.


Options for selling wet corn

Last week we gave you a calculation for valuing wet corn. In general, there is a shortage of livestock feed. A lot of cereal rye was seeded in hopes to harvest as forage next spring. And there are empty upright and bunker silos around the country. Consider talking to your livestock neighbour with a view to selling them high moisture corn. I have no firsthand experience with bagging high moisture corn, but I do know some of this is done.

Payout on sample corn

Check with your agent. Some uncertainty about payout on sample corn. Scenario I have a GP (Guaranteed Production) of 10,000 bushels. I harvested 12,000 bushels. But of that only 4,000 bushels grade #1-5. So even though you harvested yield is above your GP you can claim the $.52/bu on the difference between GP of 10,000 bushels and actual harvest of only 4,000 bushels of grade #1-#5 corn. At least that is how I interpret it. Check with your agent/adjuster.

You must report your yield by deadline date December 15 2019

Even if you still have acres in the field you must report what you have harvested and that you still have acres unharvested. Crop Insurance covers insured perils such as wet weather delaying harvest. It does not cover your custom combine operator not getting to your farm.

Phosphate Prices Lowest in 3-4 years

Generally, fertilizer is a better price in fall than spring. Phosphorous fertilizer is lower than the last 3-4 years due to over production or under consumption. If you can’t pay for fertilizer now, you might be able to book it and pay next spring.

Why does corn have a low bushel weight? (Notes from Emmerson Nafziger University of Illinois)

There are two main reasons for low test weight. The first is the premature end to kernel filling that can result from poor growing conditions, disease of leaves or ears, severe drought, or frost that comes early, or that occurs before late-planted corn can mature. Starch deposition in kernels starts at the crown of the kernel and moves towards the tip., When the movement of sugars into the kernel stops before kernels are full-sized, the base of the kernel may be shrunken. The starch deposited under poor conditions can also be less densely packed on the endosperm. The result can be kernels that don’t weigh as much as usual, and that don’t fit together very well, both of which can lower test weight. Such kernels have less starch and a lower starch-to-seed coat ratio, but they might have higher protein and oil, since these are deposited before starch deposition ends.

The other main reason for low test weights is having high grain moisture when test weight is measured. This is complicated—if all other kernel characteristics stay the same as kernels dry, loss of water weight might lower test weight. But loss of water from kernel starch usually causes starch granules to pack together more tightly, which increases kernel density and test weight. Dry kernels tend to slide past one another more easily, so they pack a little better, which can also raise test weight. As kernel moisture drops into the low teens, it might even be possible for kernels to lose test weight as water is lost but nothing else changes much.

What is the best mix for an all grass mixture for hay?

I have asked a number of folks what they like. From my own experience I know that no matter what percentage of grass species you plant you NEVER end up with that mix at harvest. Always one species does better and one or more starts to thin out. So, here is what I do. I like at least 1 pound of ladino white clover. I know it isn’t all grass but you need this. Then I use 1-2 pounds of timothy. Not sure why except growers want it to help fill in spots in first cut. Then I like to have a mix of grasses depending on the situation. I start with a ryegrass to get a quick stand start. Only need a couple of pounds. I use a fescue (generally tall fescue). Then orchard grass of a late maturing variety such as Echelon. Orchard grass must have good rust tolerance. If the grower does not like orchard grass, I will use brome. Then I use a festolium. There are different festoliums, depending what the cross was to make them. In total I want 20-25 pounds per acre of grass. The exact rate depends on seeding equipment soil type and seed bed preparation. But you know we have very little research on this topic. I would like to know what you use in your all grass mix.

Let’s change how we report the presence of new invasive weeds.

This year glyphosate resistant water hemp has been confirmed in Northumberland county on two farms. Northumberland county is south of Peterborough and runs to Lake Ontario. I imagine the seeds were brought into this farm by migratory birds. The issue though, is that I believe all farmers should know when a new invasive weed is found in an area. If I was farming land adjacent to these fields, I would immediately put in place an herbicide program to control water hemp. The current best program is more expensive than an herbicide program that will control other weeds. This is an area that the Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement could lead. What do you think? Also, we need such a program in place to trace the next 2 invasive weeds that come into Ontario. The next two will make glyphosate resistant fleabane look like a wuzzy. We need action now. We don’t want growers 10 years from now saying “why didn’t you people do something years ago”

Several articles from the recent Forage Focus meeting;

Which management practices favour alfalfa over grasses? - Joe Lawrence - Cornell

Figure 1 - Factors Influencing Forage Species Mix Prior to Planting
Figure 2 - Factors Influencing Forage Species Mix After Planting

Forage Management Quick-Hitters – Joe Lawrence – Cornell

1)    Disc vs. Mower – Discbine can pick up more yield (due to lower cutting height), but it means you pick up more ash (reducing feed quality) and stress the grasses more.

2)    With grasses – You will get more total yield for the season by raising the cutting height due to faster regrowth.

3)    Avoid the Vacuum Effect – Which means the discbine picks up ash from the soil and incorporates it in the feed. Curved blades are worse than straight blades.

4)    Stem Crimping – Is a requirement for dry hay. Use wide rows without crimping for rapid dry down for silage.

5)    Grass Maturity – Once you see the head, the quality is dead.

6)    Grass Quality 1.0 – Are less forgiving than alfalfa when it comes to crude protein, rapidly dropping closer to maturity.

7)    Grass Quality 2.0 – There are bigger differences between species of grass than varieties of grasses when it comes to forage quality.

8)   Impact of Weather on Corn Silage – Weather impacts hybrid digestibility greater than the differences between hybrids within a specific hybrid type (i.e. Grain corn, leafy silage, BMR). Higher rainfall in August means lower digestibility.

9)    Total Starch – Is impacted by dry matter and the ear to Stover ratio. You can have a leafy hybrid with lots of Stover, and minimal cob, meaning lower total starch content.

10) Adapted Corn Hybrids – Can ensure proper maturity + moisture when it comes to silage rather than increasing risk. Can gain 3-4 points in starch content using proper dry matter (cob to stover ratio is in proper portions).

Grass Species Ratings – Joe Lawrence – Cornell

Figure 3 - 6 Factors to Consider When Selling a Grass Species

Three Fertility Methodologies

I haven’t run into as many growers asking that we focus on “crop-response” as when fertilizer prices were high in 2008-2009. With current crop prices I might expect to see some asking the question for 2020. In some situations, this might be a fit, in others the focus should be to continue with a crop removal program. In others it should be a build and maintain. All of these recommendations need to start with a current soil test.

1)    Crop Response – Phosphorus and Potassium recommendations are made on probability of getting a crop response in year of application

2)    Crop Removal – Phosphorus and Potassium are applied based upon what the crop is removing, typically used on soils that are already at a medium to high level.

3)    Build (and Maintain) – Phosphorus and Potassium are applied above crop removal to build soil fertility levels to a target level. Crop removal is applied after the target level has been achieved.

Can I Farm Without Commercial Fertilizers?

There is a movement suggesting we can farm without commercial fertilizers. And if you beg, borrow or steal nutrients from another area (manure, sludge, compost, crop residue, etc.), there is likely some truth to that. However, there are five factors trusted advisors and growers need to think about when evaluating whether they require a soil amendment/commercial fertilizer. 1) The soil can only release so much of each nutrient each year. If your crop needs are far above that, you will get a response to supplementing what the soil can supply. In some situations you can get a fertility response in soils that can be classified as medium to high in nutrient availability, but not all of these situations will be an economic response. 2) Certain areas are low in a particular nutrient due to the parent rock material/weathering/crop rotation. Regardless of how many cover crops you grow, it will not fix the fact that nutrient is lacking in that area. One option would be to grow a different crop mix, another is to fix the under lying issue to grow the intended crop. Economics will determine which is more practical. 3) Crop sequencing can mitigate the need for some commercial fertilizers (i.e. corn following alfalfa and reducing N rates), but this is just prolonging the inevitable. 4) The right cover crops can mitigate off-site movement of nutrients and improve nutrient cycling, but they can also increase the amount of nutrient leaching (i.e. daikon radish releasing water extractable phosphorus during spring thaws), or tie up nitrogen during critical growth stages (high carbon covers, such as fully mature cereal rye). 5) While there are farmers who farm without fertilizer it is more profitable to use fertilizer. Our ancestors farmed without fertilizer and accepted the lower yields.

I want crop rotation freedom (no group 2s or 14s) and want to grow IP/NON-GMO soybeans?

In my mind the best option is Boundary + Lorox pre-emerge. Depending on weed spectrum, you might be further ahead staying with a RR/Xtend/Enlist soybean.

Water in the soil is a certainty, precipitation is a probability.”

- Les Henry