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The Cropwalker - Volume 3 Issue 14

Always read and follow label directions.

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Crop Conditions

Not much has changed this last week due to rain and snow and wet soils. Winter wheat continues to green up. As one CCA said “I will be surprised if we lose 50.000 acres of the close to 1.0 M planted. A far cry from last year’s wheat crop. Current wheat price also is conducive to leaving less than ideal stands. Forages continue to grow without much winter kill showing up. The current wet soil conditions will mean minimal heaving even though we have nights below freezing. Some manure spreading is continuing.



I have never heard of a burndown being applied too early. Although lots of problems with burndowns being applied too late. Delaying burndown increases the probability of having big weeds to control and large root balls that will interfere with a good seed bed. If you have volunteer wheat plants, please do not try to “work it in”. Use a burndown to get rid of it. Tillage just moves the plants around. Extra tillage to break down roots destroys soil structure. Winter wheat will be controlled with 0.5 REL/ac of glyphosate or 0.33 L/ac of what’s on the market today, (540 gm/L concentration) but since there are generally other weeds use a higher rate. Temperatures should be 7­oC at time of spraying and overnight lows should be 5o C or higher for best control. The label says to wait 3-5 days between spraying glyphosate and working the ground. This is ideal and will depend on weed species, size and growing conditions. Bigger weeds and poorer growing conditions require a longer delay. If you are spraying before Roundup Ready crop, time delay is not as critical as when crop is not Roundup Ready. If you are spraying 2,4-D to control Canada Fleabane a couple of things 1) The ester formulation is more active in cool weather and also breaks down faster than amine. Do not use the cheaper amine formulation, due to persistence of the residual.  2) You can spray 2,4-D ester one week before planting soybeans. But if you wait until one week before planting soybeans the weeds may be too big. Better to use a 2,4-D ester program now and if you have to come back to control more fleabane you can use a program with Eragon.

Reminder to use 2,4-D Ester for burndown, not Amine.

Have a few jugs of 2,4-D Amine left over and figure you will throw them in the tank to use them up when doing spring burndowns, think twice. You will run the risk of crop injury in beans due to the product being more persistent than 2,4-D Ester. How persistent? US data suggests waiting 30 days instead of 7 days if using the Amine formulation.

Question. In your last newsletter you mentioned planting soybeans earlier than planting corn. Can you elaborate?

Answer So I belong to a number of on line groups where CCAs discuss various crop topics. On this topic of planting soybeans in April or at least before planting corn Paul Sullivan CCA in Eastern Ontario” I think the industry needs to examine the reason this is important. (planting soybeans early to a long season variety) It helps soybean yields no question. Over the last 8 years in looking at management strategies with growers that adds yield, it has done it every year. A great ROI even though hardly any investment other than mind altering. The early seeded soybeans also help corn yields. The seedbed condition has much less impact on soybean yields than they do on corn. So, if the seedbed conditions are borderline and the corn is being pushed to be planted, you are bound to giving up corn yields due to lower plant population, uneven corn emergence, and eventually lower cob count. If there is any doubt about field conditions, seed soybeans + get some acres in the ground; leave the corn seed in the bag for a few extra days. Other comments include “if you have to reseeded soybeans there is incentive both from Crop Insurance and seed companies. Generally reseeding ends up with a yield similar to if you had waited. Pat Feryn CCA Stratford One reason to plant soybeans early is so that you can have time later to do other things in a timely fashion. In 2019 this was very obvious; we probably could have been planting soybeans when the ground was too wet to plant corn. We can’t go back but we can make changes for 2020. I hope some of you will try planting soybeans early when the corn ground is not fit to plant corn. Peter Johnston former OMAFRA cereal specialist “and you get to plant wheat earlier if you plant soybeans earlier”

Wheat and Tillers

Warmer temperatures and day lengths approaching 14 hours (around the end of April) will stop tiller production. Yield potential is reduced if after green up tiller number fall below 25 tillers per square foot. If you plant 15-20 seeds per foot and have 10-15 main plants per foot then having a little over an average of 1 tiller per plant, according to Past Lipps, Ohio, should allow for maximum yield. (Fifteen tillers per square foot are considered minimal for an economic crop. The number of tillers per square foot is equal to the number of tillers in 20.5 inches of 7-inch or 19.2 inches of 7.5” wide rows).

Planting a Cover Crop into Soybeans

I hope you don’t get tired about me writing about this concept. We have 3.0 M acres of soybeans. At least 2.0 M of this will not be planted to winter wheat. A lot of acres go through fall and spring unprotected. Solution is to broadcast cereal rye before soybean leaves drop. You wait until soybean leaves turn colour and use a fertilizer broadcast spreader to spread a 90” swath of cereal rye. Peter Hannam of Woodrill Farms, Guelph who started First Line Seeds was doing this in the 60’s. He was on 30” rows so no tramping. The key will be to have “tramp lines” in the soybeans. You can make these in early July by driving through a couple of weeks after your last herbicide pass (R2 fungicide?). Then you will have 2 30” rows every 90’. The yield loss will be minimal since the rows bordering your tramp lines will compensate for yield loss in your tramp line.

Minimizing Soil Compaction in the Spring – There will be temptation to get on the field before soil conditions are fit. Wheel traffic in wet soils is a major cause of compaction. Research shows that surface compaction can impact yield up to five years, and subsoil compaction can impact yield for 10 years (figure beside). To test soil water content, do a ball test. Sample soil at 3- to 6-inch depth, mold into a ball and drop on a hard surface. If it doesn’t break or crack upon impact, it’s too wet for field operations. Management strategies to reduce soil compaction include: 1) staying off wet fields, 2) controlling wheel traffic, reducing axle loads and adjusting tire pressure, 3) reducing tillage, 4) building soil organic matter (long term strategy), 5) rotating with perennial crops. Figure above was adapted from Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences.

Figure 1 - Penn State Soil Compaction Effects on Yield

Spring Cereals Seeding Recommendations

1)Adjust based upon crop species (see chart below)

2)Ensure you adjust for differences in thousand kernel weight (TKW). The supplier should be able to provide you with TKW or seeds/lb. This is important as from 2018 area II results for Barley, you could have up to a 45% difference in weight to get the same number of seeds/ac in the ground (AAC Purpose TKW of 54.1 gr. vs. Baden TKW of 37.5 gr).

3)Adjust based upon soil type (plant mortality). Clay soils should be planted at the higher end of the range.

OMAFRA Publication 811 - Table 4-7. Guidelines for cereal crop plant populations

Figure 2 - Target Plant Population by Cereal Species

Seeding Soybeans into Corn Stalks at Canada’s Outdoor Farm Show (COFS)

One of the demonstrations at this year’s COFS will be seeding soybeans with either a drill or planter into corn stalks. The corn stalks will either be left alone or have one pass of a conservation tillage tool. The equipment companies will decide whether they want to demonstrate, either corn stalks left as is or worked once with conservation tillage. I feel getting a good soybean stand with a lower seeding rate is crucial to more profitable soybean production. We only need 100,000 plants for top yield but are probably seeding on average 180,000 seeds per acre. That would be like seeding 57,600 corn seeds to get a 32,000-corn plant stand. If we can even reduce seeding rate by 15% that would be great. At a seed cost of 40-42 cents per 1,000 seeds the savings would be $11-12 /ac. The equipment companies will show us how to get better soybean seeding with their setups.

Boron in Manure

If your soil test, tissue test or crop scouting is suggesting you need boron, don’t count on it all coming from manure. After going through the manure tests where I have specific requested it, most have been coming back in the range of 0.01 to 0.04 lbs/ton. At even 20 ton/acre this would mean 0.2 to 0.8 lbs/ac. If it was applied in the fall, there is a risk that a portion of this leached out, because it is water soluble nutrient.

Why isn’t my fertilizer analysis 100% N, P or K?

A common question I use to get (especially when dealing with lawn care) was, “Why isn’t Urea 100% Nitrogen, what’s the rest of the product?” If you had 100% nitrogen, you would have N2, which is a gas in the air. The remainder of the product is elements of which we have placed no value on for fertilizer (Carbon Dioxide and Hydrogen in the case of Urea). Finally found a use for all those chemistry classes.

Actuals vs Analysis of Fertilizer

An analysis is the percentage of each plant available nutrient per unit of weight. Actuals are the number of pounds of plant available nutrient applied per acre (analysis times the rate per acre). If you applied 100 lbs of fertilizer, they would be the same. If the total NPK (i.e. 20-50-20 = 90) is more than 60, you are reading actuals, as the highest analysis NPK fertilizer is 0-0-60 (Red Potash) or 0-0-62 (White Potash). The total analysis of fertilizer cannot exceed that of the highest analysis product. Every product added to a blend dilutes the total analysis.

Where we get ourselves into trouble is when the conversation turns to “I want 100 lbs/ac of Nitrogen applied”, but is that as product or as actual units of N. And when the person on the other end of the phone doesn’t understand the difference it can be extremely confusing. To eliminate this confusion, talk rates of product and analysis.

Figure 3 - Potash Analysis vs Actuals at Various Rates
Figure 4 - Blend Analysis vs Actuals at Various Rates

Protein and Yield in Winter Wheat

One of the biggest challenges with Hard Red is getting both high yields and high protein to maximize returns (although it’s not always required to beat profitability of soft red). I have come across this matrix a few times.

Figure 5 - Yield vs Protein in Winter Wheat

If you’re in the low yield, low protein category, you may have a number of factors that are suboptimal. Population, variety, fertility, planting date., soil type, drainage. Lots of room for improvement.

If you’re in the low yield high protein category, number of plants/heads, low phosphorus levels, planting date, high temperatures, and lack of water come to mind.

If you’re in the high yield, low protein category, it could mean applying more sulphur, or adjusting nitrogen timing or rate.

If you’re in the high yield, high protein category, assumption is there isn’t anything left to do, relative to the rest of the field.

How can you acquire this information? There is a combine mounted unit called Crop Scan that can measure protein along with yield as your drive through the field. You can then in turn use this information to improve your hard-red wheat management.

Next Instruments :: CropScan 3300H - On-Header Analyser

The CropScan 3300H is a powerful near infrared spectrophotometer capable of measuring protein and moisture in cereal grains. The system consists of a NIR Spectrometer and a Touch Screen PC which sit in the cabin, a Remote Sampling Head and Fibre Optic Cable. The software send the data to the Cloud where it can be monitored using a PC, tablet or smart phone.

CropScan 3000H On Combine NIR Grain Analyser

Corn Burndown Products

Best option for crop safety is Eragon or Integrity. Can use the 30 mL rate of Eragon up to 120 mL/ac if you wanted, at more than 30 ml/ac of Eragon, I would switch to Integrity, as you gain residual grass, lamb’s quarters and pigweed control with the Frontier portion at a great price. Don’t forget the Merge and glyphosate!

Elevore is also registered. Apply Elevore 5 days prior to planting. These product would be preferred if the predominate weed in the field is dandelions, or you are trying to spray off in less than optimal weather conditions, saving the Eragon/Integrity for closer to planting if you have to respray.

Although the most recent version of OMAFRA’s publication 75 Guide to Weed Control suggests you can apply dicamba prior to planting corn, I would not recommend this practice, and the Engenia label explicitly states do not incorporate dicamba prior to planting corn. All group 4s (2,4-D, Blackhawk, Dicamba, Elevore, Enlist Duo) should be used with caution prior to planting corn, especially if tillage is to be used.

Figure 6 - Corn Burndown Herbicides

The Nitrogen Cycle and Nitrogen Sources

Figure 7 - Nitrogen Cycle and N Products

Nitrogen Stabilizers and Rates -  The next best option to splitting your Nitrogen applications in corn is to add a N Stabilizer with your PRE applied urea or UAN. 1. Agrotain Ultra is a liquid product that can be added to UREA or UAN – it contains a urease inhibitor and offers “above-ground” protection of N loss by volatilization. Its application rate is 3.1 L/mT of urea, and 1.55 L/mT of UAN. Agrotain Advanced is a more concentrated version of Agrotain Ultra and performs better on Urea. 2. Agrotain Plus SC is a liquid product that can be added to UAN. It contains a urease inhibitor and a nitrification inhibitor, so offers “above” and “below” ground protection of N loss from volatilization AND denitrification.   Its application rate is 11 L/MT. 3. Entrench is a nitrogen stabilizer that contains nitrapyrin, a nitrification inhibitor. It offers “below ground” protection from loss. Its application rate is 1.1 L/ac. It has a per acre rate, while both Agrotain products have a per treated product rate.

Figure 8 - Nitrogen Inhibitors

"Amateurs have a goal. Professionals have a process."

- Shane Parrish