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Hope everyone is staying safe and following safe distance as much as possible. My strategy is to stay as healthy as possible so that if I get it, I can weather it. This will require that we adjust how we operate our businesses. Through challenging times, like this, new methods of getting things done are found. Along with a new perspective or appreciation for what pieces are truly important.
Winter wheat is greening up in many areas. Bunch now covered by snow. No signs of winter kill. However now is when we can lose wheat. Freezing and thawing cycles can heave wheat out of the ground. BUT most wheat was planted early, so should have a good root system as long as it was planted deep enough. Ground is not overly wet so heaving should be minimal. Red clover seeding has started in areas with no snow cover. Red clover is still the best cover crop. You can insure it. Even if it dies it pays to plant red clover as long as you insure it. New seedings A few acres have been seeded. Forage stands You should check all forage fields now. Winter kill should be minimal on fields established in 2018 and 2019. Earlier established fields need to be checked really close. Last year a lot of fields were inter seeded with annual rye grass and gave 2 good cuts in 2019. If you still have some of those fields, consider reseeding again as the rye grass you planted last year is probably dead now. If you can, now is a good time to apply 10-15 pounds of sulfur per acre. You can apply more later. Manure spreading is ongoing. Be mindful of rules of manure spreading. Manure is supposed to be incorporated.
Glyphosate – Ensure you have what you need for 2020
Given the current environment, I would consider booking, securing and storing 1 year’s supply of glyphosate on the farm. Have spoken with Syngenta folks and they believe they have enough of their products to supply the market. I do not anticipate any issues with this spring’s crop protection needs but would expect to see some price adjustments by fall, on high volume products like glyphosate.
Eragon on Red Clover
Unsure if you should put red clover into your thin wheat stand? Concerned about harvestability? Two management actions you could do and still use red clover as part of your crop rotation. 1) Use single cut red clover 2) If the red clover could be a harvestability issue (mainly for those wanting straw) – spray the wheat pre-harvest with Eragon LQ at 30-40 mL/ac + Merge at 0.4 L/ac to knock back the clover without killing it. Based upon experience in 2014 it will regrow.
Navigating the Winter Wheat Herbicide Conversation
In recent years there have been several new winter wheat herbicides released in the Ontario market. Many of these contain the active fluroxypyr. Here is a summary of the various fluroxypyr products and where they might fit.
Soybean yield and Populations – 49 On Farm Trials 2015-2019
These 49 on farm Michigan trials from 2015 to 2019 validate what we think is true for Ontario. The extra seed gave some yield increase and marginally decreased profit. When you over seed soybeans, part is because of the uncertainty of getting a good stand. Part of this is due to getting good seed to soil contact because of residue. Of the 49 on farm trials two locations had significant white mould. At those 2 locations the higher populations (160,000) ended with about a $50 /ac lower returns than the 80,000 seed drop.
How to figure out Crop Removal on Forages if you Have a Feed Test
Quite a few producers have feed tests on hand, some even have fairly accurate rates of what has been removed from the field. If you have this data, it’s pretty easy to figure out what is actually being removed from the field.
1) Find the % phosphorus and the % potassium on the feed test on a wet or as fed basis
2) Grab the scale tickets or use the weight from the TMR mixer (for bales) to approximate what was removed from the field.
3) Do some quick math;
a. Multiple the % P (wet or as fed basis) by the wet weight/acre, then multiply by 2.29 to get the amount of P2O5 removed in lbs per acre.
b. Multiple the % K (wet or as fed basis) by the wet weight/acre, then multiple by 1.2 to get the amount of K2O removed in lbs per acre.
4) See example below.
How to Navigate Grower Rebate Programs for Crop Protection Products
Almost all programs are set up to target the corn or soybean acre, providing bonus incentives to tack on fungicides or insecticides. With this in mind, figure out your weed spectrum, pick the right herbicide program that match the weed spectrum, then figure out if there is much difference in pairing those acres with the fungicide program that company offers. If it does, then run with it. Ensure you are comparing net pricing at the end of the day.
Social Distancing – Fertilizer Style
Don’t share your density cup. This spring buy your own fertilizer density cup to improve spreading accuracy, everyone that operates a piece of equipment that applies fertilizer should have one of these. One Canadian supplier offers them at this website below (they are red in colour). When I had ordered mine, total cost was about $120 delivered to my front door. Otherwise Green Lea Ag or HJV Equipment will have the available for order as well. https://www.halross.com/English/product-scales.asp
New(ish) Crop Protection Products for 2020
A brief summary of some product tradenames and where they fit for the 2020 season.
Corteva - Cerefit
This cereal fungicide is a co-pack of Acapela plus Tilt. Cerefit is targeted for all types of cereal acres (all classes of wheat, barley and oats) from tiller (T1) to fully emerged flag leaf (T2). It can be tank-mixed with common wheat herbicides, provided you follow timing and temperature restrictions (like all cereal strobi fungicides).
Corteva - Commenza
This is essentially the old Broadstrike Dual, with Sencor added, as part of a co-pack. This is how the program stacks up to Boundary LQ + Broadstrike.
Corteva - 2,4-D Choline (Enlist Duo)
Eventually 2-4D Choline will be available separately and you can add your own glyphosate. Currently it is in a pre-mix with glyphosate, as Enlist Duo. The glyphosate used in this pre-mix plays nice with other glyphosate salts, so if you want to adjust the rate by topping up, you can. Suitable as burndown for all soybean types and targeted in-crop for Enlist tolerant soybeans and corn.
Corteva- Steadfast IS
Think of this product as Ultim with a crop safener. By adding the safener, Corteva suggests that you are able to apply Steadfast IS on short season corn hybrids and have an application window up to the 8-leaf stage. Target market is conventional field corn requiring grass control, and for the control of volunteer canola (including RR types).
Corteva - Lontrel XC
Lontrel hasn’t had much use in the field crops in Ontario due to it being priced for the horticultural market. It has been repriced, and if you struggle with weeds such as Volunteer Alfalfa, Perennial Sowthistle, Canada Fleabane, Canada Thistle, Tufted Vetch, this could be the ticket on corn and winter wheat acres. It is registered to be used in-crop in corn with glyphosate. Do not apply Lontrel to soybeans.
Gowan - ShieldEx
Gowan acquired the rights to distribute this active from ISK in 2019. It is a knock down group 27 grass and broadleaf herbicide for use in Corn with limited residual activity (up to 3 weeks). If you have experience with Armezon or Impact, the active behaves very similarly. Based upon U of G research data from 2015 to 2017, it has a slight edge over other group 27s on pigweeds, waterhemp, and shows excellent Canada fleabane control compared to using Marksman in-crop. Tank mixing ShieldEx with a minimum of 0.48 L/ac of Aatrex 480 improves control for some weed species by 10-15%. Tank mixing with MSO (Soybean Oil) is also required at 1% v/v.
Syngenta – Fungicides
Syngenta has quite a bit of publicity around their new fungicide active Adepidyn, which is the core active to the Miravis fungicide family.
Is a new this year and targeted for leaf disease and fusarium head blight timing in winter wheat, more in a future issue.
Is new this year and targeted for leaf and Fusarium/Gibberella ear rot in field corn, more in a future issue.
Destra IS vs Engarde
Same actives (Elim + Callisto) different rates, different corn timings, one has a safener is the long and short of it. Destra IS is for in-crop, Engarde is for pre-emerge option. See chart below.
Shortlist of Pre-Emerge Programs for Conventional Corn
There are herbicide products on the market intended for Roundup Ready setup acres, this article will cover preferred corn herbicide programs for conventional corn acres.
Acuron – 1.96 L/ac
All around this will be the most consistent program you can use, it will provide control of weeds such as bluegrass, Canada fleabane, and waterhemp. Main reason to not use would be if another option takes care of your weed spectrum, and is available at a lower price point, or you want to preserve the ability to apply a group 27 like Callisto in-crop for rescue.
Engarde 40 ac/jug + Aatrex @ 0.25 L/ac
I have used this program on both conventional and strip-till fields with success. The product breakdown is Elim + Callisto. If you do have weed escapes, post options would require the use of Distinct or Lontrel for broadleaf weeds, as you have used a group 27 up front.
Converge XT – 20 ac/rate (15 ac/rate if you have Proso Millet)
I’ve had really good success on broadleaves with this herbicide, it can be more prone to grasses escapes than other co-packs that include a standalone grass herbicide. Because it contains a group 27, Distinct or Lontrel would have to be used in-crop for broadleaf cleanup. If you miss the pre-emerge window, consider switching to another product with stronger knock down (i.e. Acuron or Engarde).
Prowl 0.89 L/ac + Marksman 1.5 L/ac
Start clean and stay clean with this option. Must be applied pre-emerge, if applied early post, you risk having grass escapes (need to add Ultim/Steadfast IS), great option if you want to come back with a group 27 like Callisto, Aremzon or ShieldEx at the 6-8 leaf stage. If you use a lot of group 15s (Primextra, Acuron, Dual, Frontier, etc) in other parts of your crop rotation, this is a solid option for herbicide rotation purposes. I also like having Markman up front when coming out of alfalfa.
I have Yellow Nutsedge in Corn, Best Options?
Primextra II Magnum or Frontier PPI, followed by Permit in-crop. Even one rep that may sell ones of these two PPI products concedes that Permit is by part the most effective corn herbicide on the market on Yellow Nutsedge. You could also just apply Permit in-crop if the patches are not too severe. Do not apply Permit to soybeans, as they are highly sensitive to this herbicide, and after you work down the crop, you will have to replant the field to something less sensitive.
How should I apply nutrients?
If you have nutrients you need to apply that are taken up by mass flow, they should be all applied the same way (i.e. broadcast), as it is preferable to avoid making hot zones of one nutrient over another, unless you have the ability to drastically improve uptake. For instance, nitrogen, sulphur and boron should be applied in the same pass.
Should I apply Boron to Winter Wheat?
Research I have read suggests that response is inconsistent across varieties (only 40 to 50% respond). If there is a response, it is in the range of 10 to 15% yield bump. If you did want to try boron, I would apply it in my first pass of nitrogen, at 1 actual pound of boron per acre. Soils or areas of fields that are responsive to sulphur, are more likely to be responsive to boron. How does it work? In one study, they found that including boron increased both the number of grains per spike, and the TKW (thousand kernel weight), across all varieties (on a boron responsive soil). A third study found that response only occurred in varieties with spikelet sterility. Try a few passes through a field with Solubor included with the 28% UAN.
Should I consider adding Boron to my fertilizer program?
If you are a livestock producer, with a heavy alfalfa/corn silage rotation, and are currently applying sulphur to your crops, I would anticipate that you would be in a situation to see a response to boron on your alfalfa. But this doesn’t just apply to livestock farmers. If you have witnessed sulphur deficiency on your fields in the past, especially on the knolls, those areas are likely to also be responsive to boron. Boron is one of the few micronutrients that is not included in a mineral pack in livestock feeds. If you are feeding with low boron content feeds, there is no way of improving boron levels on a field without fertilizing for it. Majority of the boron available to the crop is through the mineralization of organic matter. If you have low organic matter and light texture soils, there is a strong probability there is some yield being left on the table without having this nutrient in your crop plan.
What’s your target return
Earlier this week a client was pointing out some of the challenges he sees with a certain brand of aftermarket planter attachments. My comment was that you need to decide what risk you want to take on, and when do you want to stop chasing the marginal forms of return. In his situation he didn’t want to chase marginal returns that didn’t fit his management system. As you make decisions around management for this spring, what is your risk tolerance? Do you expect 3, 5, 10, 15 or even 20% more dollars back on every dollar spent?
"Any success I’ve had in my life has more to do (with), my knowing how to deal with what I don’t know, than to do with anything I do know." - Ray Dalio - Founder of Bridgewater Associates