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The Cropwalker - Volume 3 Issue 15

Always read and follow label directions.

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Crop Conditions

Weather has been generally wet this last week. Some areas had some cold nights. Expect to see some frozen leaves on fields that did not have snow when temperatures dropped below -5 o C. Plants will grow out of this. Also expect to see purple leaves. Wheat probably 75% of Ontario’s wheat has the first N application. Rest will get N when ground is fit. Unless hard red wheat, consider applying all of N in one application. Exception is light soil types, but these soils probably already have N applied. Corn and soybean planting have not started other than the odd acre. Will start now as soon as ground is fit. Some fields have fertilizer spread last week. Spring grain and new seedings some acres have been planted, probably less than 10% of intended acres. Forages most acres appear to be growing well.


How much nitrogen should I apply to soft red winter wheat?

If you have yield potential of 100 bu/ac you should be applying 120-150 pounds per acre if you plan to use at least two applications of fungicides. Our old standard of 90 lbs N /ac is enough if you are not going to apply two fungicides. High wheat yields come from high N and two fungicide applications. One without the other will not get high yields.

How Important is Weed Control in Winter Wheat?

Not as important as disease control. Very little research to show a yield increase by controlling weeds in-crop in winter wheat (different story pre-emerge). Main reasons to control weeds in winter wheat is ease of harvesting and prevent weed seeds from going into the seed bank. If you are tank mixing a fungicide and herbicide, timing for the fungicide is more important than early timing for weed control.

Which should I plant first corn soybeans or spring cereals or forages?

Ideally, I like to see forages planted first. BUT now that it is April 21, plant whatever you were intending to plant on whatever land is ready. Do not worry about planting soybeans this early. (see summary last week of why you should plant soybeans before corn) Corn needs 115 to 120 Growing Degree Days (GDDs) to emerge after planted into moist soil. Under “normal” temperature conditions early May, it takes 6 to 7 days to accumulate those 115 to 120 GDDs. (That is when soil temperatures are around 8--10oC). That translates to daily accumulations of 18 to 20 GDDs. Emergence of corn with current GDDs of only 5 per day would occur in about 24 days. (I have seen corn planted April 20 not emerge until May 20 but still yielded well) The longer corn stays in the ground the more apt it is to be attacked by soil diseases. So, there is a risk to planting early. On the other hand, if you delay planting and we get some good weather and then get rained out until the last days of May there is a yield loss because of delay in planting. Consider starting to plant any fields that are fit. These will typically be lighter soils which will warm up faster. Any soils that have sand or silt in their naming would fit this category. Some exceptions are soils that have are Brookston or Haldimand Series. If there is a cold front predicted that will last for 4-5 days, consider holding off.

What soil temperature do I need before I start planting corn and soybeans?

Throw the soil thermometer away or put it in the toolbox. For years I was checking soil temperatures for correct temperature for planting. What did I find? The soil temperature varied across the field which makes sense as soil residue, soil type and soil moisture varied across the field. The temperature sort of followed air temperature. But it depended on how long the sun was shining and how much cloud cover there was. You will hear or read a lot about what the soil temperature should be. Do not waste time on soil temperature. Once the soil is fit PLANT. There is concern about corn and soybeans imbibing cold water in the first 24 hours after planting. Maybe a concern if you are sure the soil will be cold and wet after planting early, and you are sure when you plant later the conditions will be better.

How deep should I plant?

For corn you want to be 2”-2-1/2”. If you set the planter at 1-1/2” in heavier soils, and it ends up deeper in lighter soil types, that is acceptable. You need to be this deep to get the nodal root system established. Too shallow can mean a poor root system. There are more problems with shallow planted corn than deep planted However, if you plant 3” the seed will use too much energy to emerge and can lead to the plant leafing out underground. And you must check planting depth in different soil types and check every row. Same setting on each unit does not mean same seed depth. Soybeans should be into soil moisture. This time of year, 1-1 ½” should get you into soil moisture. Forages need to be ½”. Know that some will be deeper and some shallower. That is life and why we use 16-20 lbs/ac seed. Peas in a cereal pea mix should be like soybeans. I would not like to see pea seed left on top of the ground. If you go too shallow it will not cut through the trash.

Levelling Ruts

The objective is to level these areas so that you can get a good seedbed. Only goes as deep as the ruts or as deep as you need to get a seedbed. Do not try to undue the compaction at the bottom of the rut. This soil will be too wet. Deeper tillage will cause soil smearing and further soil deterioration. You may have to work rutted areas more than once to get a seedbed. You can work on the compaction at the bottom of the ruts later. Or maybe grow a forage crop there J.

What causes Seed Placed Fertilizer Burn?

Excessive concentrations of fertilizer salts near a germinating seed or seedling root causes injury. The injury is caused when the concentration of ions in the soil (because of fertilizer) is greater than the concentration of ions within the plant cells. The high osmotic pressure created by the fertilizer salts causes water to move out of the plant cells and into the soil. As water moves out of the plant cells, the tissue desiccates and becomes blackened, hence the term fertilizer burn. The result is the eventual death of the plant tissue. (Part of an article in Wisconsin Crops Newsletter.) The extent of this damage depends on fertilizer rate (maximum of 10 lbs/ac N and K) soil type (higher chance of damage on lighter soils, due to reduced field capacity) soil moisture (drier soils higher chance of damage), crop species, (do not apply seed placed fertilizer with peas or beans). High broadcast rates of urea plus muriate of potash can cause seed burn on dry light soils, especially if applied where high rate of seed placed fertilizer is used. Generally phosphorous does not cause seed burn, there is a higher risk using DAP, due to the higher ammonia content compared to MAP.

Lagging vs Leading Indicators in Crop Production Profitability/Performance

If you could build a dashboard of your crop performance during the growing season, what would you put on it? What are leading or lagging indicators you will have a strong finish?

Yield – Lagging

Soil Test both – but primarily a lagging indicator of your performance, as management dictates where you are at today as far as a value goes.

Soil Moisture – Leading

Solar Radiation – Leading

Rooting Depth – Leading

Fuel Usage – Lagging

Profitability – Lagging

Size of house – Really Lagging (I am serious when I say this. Growing up I was always amazed how some areas had better farmhouses vs. areas that struggled with crop production, even within the same township.)

What would you be measuring or putting on your cropping dashboard?

What weed is it?

Saw this yesterday, was stumped for a bit, and then remembered what it looks like later in the season. What do you think it is? Will follow up next week.

Picture 1 - Mystery Weed of the Week

Water Solubility of Micronutrients

Not all soil applied micronutrients are rated the same when it comes to effectiveness. One factor to consider is the water solubility of the material you are working with. There are three types of inorganic micronutrients (non-chelated), these are sulphates, oxides and oxysulphates. The sulphates are assumed to be 100% water soluble. If you are going to use a soil applied micronutrient, ensure that it is at least 50% water soluble. Research suggests that it takes 4x more Zinc when a low solubility source is used vs that of high solubility to get the same response (summary of research in table below). If you have applied soil-applied micronutrients in the past and not gotten a response, even on a low soil test, check the water solubility of the material you were using. One of the best articles I have read on this topic is the link below by Spectrum Analytic (soil lab in Ohio).

Figure 1 - Water Solubility of Zinc by Rate and Yield Response

Water Solubility of Micronutrient Fertilizers Important and Often Overlooked

OMAFRA Strip-Till Trial Results – Spring vs Fall Application

First off this is 1 year’s worth of data from a study funded by the Grain Farmers of Ontario, and the results are based upon one wet spring on medium soils with highly responsive soils to phosphorus and medium responsive soils for potassium. Here is a summary of their findings; 1) Yields with spring strip till with P&K was 10.3 bushels higher on average than full width tillage with spring strip P&K. 2) Yields of spring vs fall strip with P&K were on average 7.5 bu/ac great with spring strip. 2 of 5 locations has large response, 3/5 no response. 3) Comparing similar nutrient placements, yield performance of spring strip and full width tillage were similar.

Figure 2 - Corn Response to Nutrient Timing and Placement
Crop Advances: Investigating Strip Till P & K Placement and Timing – Field Crop News

Crop Advances: Investigating Strip Till P & K Placement and Timing – Field Crop News

Growth Regulators on Winter Wheat

Some of talk about putting growth regulators on winter wheat. In my experience very few fields need a growth regulator. Even working with those that have been doing intensive cereal management, maybe 10-20% of total intensively managed acres would be treated each year. Normally with these growers, I made a list of fields that I thought were at high risk of lodging, either due to field experience (manure/muck), the variety or observations from previous scout reports and then did a quick field check a day or so prior to application. If you have high levels of powdery mildew, that maybe an indication you have a thick winter wheat stand. Lastly, applying a lodging type growth regulator on crops without significant risk of lodging rarely provides a yield benefit. Now on to the product choices. Really only two products on the market. Manipluator and Ethrel. Manipulator (previously sold as Cyclocel Extra), works on the lower parts of the plant, where as Ethrel reduces the length of the peduncle (the stem the head sits on). See notes below on timing and rates. I would recommend reading the label for the respective product prior to application, to ensure you understand proper application timing and rates.

Figure 3 - Growth Regulators for Winter Wheat in Ontario

UKKO Agro – Crop Stage and Disease Modelling

UKKO Agro, an Ontario based start-up, is currently commercializing a crop stage and disease modeling platform. This web and mobile based platform forecasts when the optimal time is to apply pesticides, water, and crop nutrients on a field by field level. Ukko Agro has collaborated with multiple researchers across North America to source and integrate research to build its prediction models. The prediction software uses data from in-field devices and farmer’s management practices. To access the field specific advisory, users pay a per acre fee that includes the cost of the in-field device(s), user platform and prediction model. The software is meant to be used in conjunction with an agronomist and assist on when to check a field for optimal timing or the presence of a disease. The chart below outlines the available crops within the prediction modelling portfolio and the expected product pipeline. If this may be of interest to you, please email ketan@ukko.ag to learn more or setup a product demo or visit the Ukko Ag website, www.ukko.ag. If you are a Fieldwalker Agronomy client, please speak with Jonathan if you are interested in trying this service.

Figure 4 - UKKO Agro Product Portfolio and Pipeline

Question – Which residual herbicides should my customers be aware of for potential injury when trying to establish alfalfa/forage?

Answer - The chart below is a listing of all herbicides in OMAFRA’s Guide to Weed Control – Field Crops publication 75A, that your clients should keep track of if they have forage in the rotation or are considering establishing forages on recently acquired land. For grasses, consider looking at barley or oats to provide an indication on possible sensitivity. The list is much more extensive than the past, where only soil applied products were listed, as now it includes contact and systemic products,, along with soil-applied products; example is 2,4-D Ester (4 months for alfalfa by the way). List starts at page 72.

OMAFRA Publication 75A - Chapter 4

Herbicides Used in Ontario

"Amateurs see feedback and coaching as someone criticizing them as a person. Professionals know they have weak spots and seek out thoughtful criticism."

- Shane Parrish