14 min read

The Cropwalker - Volume 3 Issue 34

Always read and follow label directions.

September 2020 Complimentary Issue; Next complimentary issue will be December 8, 2020.

To become a member and receive all issues, sign up at: https://www.getrevue.co/profile/Cropwalker/members

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. Issues with a blue star indicate that they are member's only.

We also answer questions via phone/email as part of this membership. If you would prefer to pay by cheque, please reply to this email.

Crop Conditions

Soybeans some are turning quickly and will be ready for harvest within 2 weeks. Consensus is that harvest of earliest planted beans will start around September 20th in most parts of the province. If you are using a desiccant, you need to have 90% of the pods brown. At this stage the leaves will be dropped or yellow. Roundup is not a desiccant. Eragon is. According to BASF “Eragon delivers fast complete dry down of soybeans with reduced risk of regrowth.” Forages – Not much activity this week. Across the province we have gone from shortage, to most areas have enough but some individual farmers will be short. Opportunity in these areas for neighbour to neighbour sales. Corn for silage should start later this week or next week depending on the area/field, etc. Watch whole plant moisture. Every year someone gets caught with corn silage that got too dry.


Things to Do This Week

1.     Check all on farm grain storage for insects. Reports of Indian Meal moth in stored wheat

2.    If using your own wheat seed do, a seed count per lb. Weigh a minimum of 100 grams.

3.    Double check all soybean fields for diseases. More reports of Sudden Death Syndrome showing up. Partially because of weather stresses.

4.    Check all fire extinguishers in harvest equipment to make sure they are fully charged.

5.    Check your soil tests organic matter level. Are they changing?

6.    Have your winter wheat starter plans finalized?

Fusarium Tolerant Hybrids

Corn seed folks are coming around asking for orders. Be sure to ask about tolerance to fusarium. Even if fusarium is not an issue in corn this year, we must insist on having hybrids with good fusarium tolerance. In some area’s fusarium is a problem every 7-8 years. Some areas it is a problem 3 out of 6 years. The corn buyers will be more diligent in checking for fusarium. Keep the pressure on the seed companies to give us hybrids with good fusarium tolerance. I think you can give up some yield to get good fusarium tolerance.

Winter Wheat Seeding Reminders

The most important thing is spreading soybean chaff evenly. Your combine manual will give ideas if your service guy doesn’t know. If seeding this week probably 1.2-1.3 M seeds /ac is enough on the best soils. For tougher soils, or those very low in phosphorus, aim for 1.4 to 1.6 M seeds. Planting this early you will get tillers. As season goes on you will need to increase seeding rate. Even though you are planting early, you need to plant at least 1” deep. My preference is 1.25 to 1.5”, especially on later fields. You need this depth to reduce the amount of heaving next spring. Too many fields or areas of fields are ripped up the drill was not deep enough. Applying phosphorous fertilizer with the seed is a proven practice unless your soil test is very high for phosphorous.

What Stage to Harvest Oats for Forage

Stage of maturity for optimum forage quality is at the “boot-stage” (head beginning to emerge from leaf whorl). Harvested at the boot-stage, fall grown oats are highly digestible and palatable. With cooler temperatures and shorter days, fall grown oats often have higher digestible energy than spring seeded oats. Boot-stage oatlage is excellent feed for dairy heifers and beef cows but may not be adequate to include in high producing dairy cow rations. At the boot-stage, cereals are typically about 16.5% crude protein and 54% NDF with very good fiber digestibility. Once headed, nutritional quality declines rapidly. Harvesting at the headed or early-milk stages will provide more yield but will have much lower digestible energy and protein. Wet chemistry rather than NIRS laboratory analysis of cereal forage is recommended. (Notes from OMAFRA)

Podcast on Organic Matter (OM)

Dr Jerry Hatfield, a retired USDA laboratory director had some good points. 1) Most OM (humus) comes mostly from roots not tops. (explains why we are losing OM by growing soybeans) The tops break down very quickly. (Sell straw) 2) You can build soil OM levels to a level where they naturally were before the land was cropped. (use fence rows as an indication of OM levels) 3) Carbon dioxide in the soil is important to build OM but so is oxygen. You need an open soil to get oxygen into the soil.

Notes from Tom Kilcer, CCA from New York on Winter Triticale

Earlier planting means more tillers, which provides higher yields. Winter Triticale should be seeded 10-14 days prior to your ideal winter wheat planting date. For example, winter triticale with a Sept 10th seeding date in replicated trials yielded 30% more dry matter than October 5th seeding date. The Sept 10th plantings were ready a week earlier for harvest than the October 5th fields. In Tom’s trials, ideal seeding rate has been 100 lbs./ac, regardless of seeding date. If seeding later, Tom has found that a 3-way fungicide seed treatment (no insecticide), has been beneficial, 15% more yield on the earlier seeding date, 28% more on later seeding date. Set your drill to a minimum of 1.25” deep, seeding depth is critical for winter survival. There is a benefit to fall tillering if you can give it a shot of N to stimulate tillering, this will not affect winter hardiness (Tom recommends 50-60 lbs N/ac plus S in fall, then need to apply N and S again in the spring). Lastly, treat it like a forage crop, not a cover crop. If you plant a mix with oats, and take off a fall cut, keep mowing height high, low cutting heights impact winter survival.

Rye vs Triticale vs Winter Wheat for Spring Forage

OSCIA trials overseen by Peter Johnson and Shane McClure (OMAFRA) in 2012/13 showed that cereal rye out yielded triticale and winter wheat when harvested as spring forage. The optimum rate of N was 60 lbs/ac of N for cereal rye. Cereal rye was significantly earlier to boot than triticale or winter wheat. In these plots cereal rye had almost 2X as much dry matter at harvest dates. If the optimal planting window is missed, winter cereal rye is likely to provide better performance than triticale or winter wheat as a spring forage crop. Data from Tom Kilcer suggests you would have to increase the Winter Triticale seeding rate by 4.5 x to get similar stem numbers on a late planting vs. seeding it on time.

Why Tom Kilcer recommends Winter Triticale over Cereal Rye in New York State

I asked Tom why Triticale over Cereal Rye, here are some of his responses. 1) In his trials any N rates over 50 lbs./ac tends to cause significant lodging in cereal rye. He has applied up to 200 lbs of N/ac in nitrogen trials and did not have lodging in Triticale. 2) He can get 20% crude protein without lodging on triticale (using both N and S) but would cause lodging issues in rye. 3) The improved triticale varieties have much more tillers enough though they are only 2/3rds the height of rye, and it is the tillers that produce most of the yield. 4) They have figured out what they need to do management wise to make the crop work for the target feed market (Dairy cows), see earlier article for additional details.

Wisconsin research on Radish giving an “N” Credit

This study found no N credit for the next season’s crop as determined through nitrogen response curves (data not shown). This research supports radish use as a cover crop to trap fall N. From an environmental perspective, this uptake of nitrogen has the potential to reduce nitrate nitrogen from making its way to the groundwater, however, the release of nitrogen from decomposing radish biomass was not available to a subsequent corn crop as indicated by the corn yield, showing that the fate of this nitrogen is unclear. In this trial plots with radish yielded less than the check.

Potash Removal in High Yielding Crops

Had a few inquires last week on what rate of fall potash producers should be applying to ensure they are maintaining potassium soil test levels. For producer “A” the concern was that they are removing some fairly strong yields on particular fields and weren’t upping the rates enough to stay ahead of improving yields, for producer “B”, they are fertilizing with potash, but continue to see potassium deficiency with a slight decline in soil test level. If you subscribe to this method of fertility recommendations, any “build” would have to be over and above the rates listed. Note that I have lower rates of potassium removal for straw than others may suggest, these straw removal rates on based upon personal experience or in conversation with growers. If your experience is different, adjust accordingly.

Figure 1 - Potash Removal on Above Average Yield Crops

What is the range in Straw Removal Values for P2O5 & K2O?

Joanna Follings, Cereal Specialist with OMAFRA ran a study in 2019 looking at the removal rates of nutrients in winter wheat straw. Here is what she found.

Figure 2 - Winter Wheat Straw Removal Values on Various Fields in Ontario in 2019

Source of data: https://www.ontariosoilcrop.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/V16-2019_CrpAdv_Cer2_Winter-Wheat-Straw-Nutrient-Removal-2019.pdf

Link to Crop Residue Study: https://atrium.lib.uoguelph.ca/xmlui/bitstream/handle/10214/3666/Thesis_Final.pdf?sequence=3&isAllowed=y

Alfalfa termination – Timing is More Critical Than Product Selection

In September of 2019, Mike Cowbrough, OMAFRA Weed Specialist had an excellent article on termination of Round-up Ready Alfalfa. In this Country Guide article, he commented on how adverse growing conditions impacted fall burndowns effectives of Roundup Ready alfalfa with various products. If you have ran out of window due to weather conditions, it does not matter which phenoxy herbicide you use, you are better off waiting until spring to control it.

Figure 3 - Tank Mix Partner for Termination of Roundup Ready (HarvXtra) Alfalfa

Source: https://www.country-guide.ca/crops/pest-patrol-killing-off-roundup-ready-alfalfa/

SCN Test Results – What does it mean?

I had a handful of fields in August I suspected may have SCN, so I sent samples away to verify. The tests do not explicitly state what to do, one of the better resources I found was written by CCA Dale Cowan, see chart below and link to the article.

Figure 4 - SCN Egg Populations and Potential Yield Losses

Soybean Cyst Sampling and Results

Dale Cowan - Certified Crop Advisor

Message from BASF on Eragon use

(This was written for later in the season but maybe relevant with current weather system in play)

Eragon LQ is still the product-of-choice for late-season pre-harvest burndowns

Use the 59.2mL/ac rate in all cases, as well as the proper surfactant Merge, and high-water volumes >25gpa (check with your end user, some only allow the 29 mL/ac rate with glyphosate)

Apply during mid-day, when the sun is high, and weed metabolism is active. Avoid applications when dew is present or forming. Even if all technical recommendations are followed precisely, late-season burndowns can be very inconsistent, especially if the weather is frequently cool or overcast. Seed Bank Management is not on the table from here forward. Primary objective is to dry off weeds for ease of harvest.

Weed Control Cost by Effectiveness

We all balk at cost. What you are really buying with herbicides is product effectiveness. When looking at product cost, don’t forget to also look at percentage control. A common one is just using Roundup, because the add ins are too expensive. But there are weeds that Roundup isn’t very effective on or have been selected for resistance.

Effect of Management on Weed Seed Bank 2 of 2

A few questions over the summer on tillage practices and what it takes to reduce weed seed population. Two more charts to share this week, one is the source of different weed seeds, as far as movement is concerned, and the second, what the interactions in a weed seed bank look like. One of the biggest things you can do to stop the spread of weeds into new fields at this time of year is to harvest the dirtiest fields last. Another common one that is not thought of is the weeds growing around the manure pits or piles, blowing new weed seeds every year onto the pile, to be only spread back on to the field. A third is field entrances between fields on the same farm, these areas tend to get worked or sprayed, but not always planted or the crop that is there isn’t overly competitive. Be ruthless in ensuring you are not adding to the weed seed bank. These areas would be better off left, and just mowed occasionally to keep tree seedlings down. Both of these charts are from the Montana State University Guide 200808AG, Weed Seedbank Dynamics & Integrated Management of Agricultural Weeds which you can find here; https://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=

Figure 5 - Weed Seed Distance Travel in Feet by Carrier
Figure 6 - Weed Seed Bank Sources of Additions/Losses

What Herbicide Should I use for Burndown this fall?

Well, it depends on the weed spectrum, see table below.

Figure 7 - Fall Burndown Chart

Glyphosate – what is a REL?

When glyphosate (Roundup Original) was first on the market, it was marketed as 360 grams per L active ingredient. Most of the research was done at this concentration and there are now many products on the market at higher concentrations. To ensure everyone is on the same page, the term “relative equivalent liter” or REL was developed, this ensures every is talking the same amount of active. Majority of the product sold in Ontario today is of the 540 grams/L formulation, meaning 1 REL/ac is 0.67 L/ac of product, and 2 REL/ac is 1.33 L/ac of product.

Figure 8 - REL Chart of Glyphosate

What Rate of Dicamba Again?

Figure 9 - Dicamba Rate Chart

A hammer looking for a nail?

While disappointing to see an industry player be shown the door, (drone and airplane imagery provider TerrAvion recently declared bankruptcy) I'm becoming more convinced that agronomy, farmers or field staff will change how imagery is delivered, than imagery providers will be changing how agronomy is delivered. Agronomists, farmers and field staff will find more edge cases for it than any imagery provider could even start to image it would be used for. The designer of the combustion engine would likely not have imaged all the varied uses it is used in today. Those within specific industries find edge cases where the tool fits, rather than the designer of the tool finding all the edge cases.

Source: https://www.agprofessional.com/article/aerial-imagery-company-terravion-abruptly-files-bankruptcy

Fall Applied Boron

Last week we had mentioned if you were applying fall potash on alfalfa and have had visual symptoms of boron deficiency in the past to consider using Aspire, as portion of the boron supplied is a slower release form of boron. One of our readers wrote back suggesting that there are also other slow release boron products on the market (in the event the retailer does not carry Aspire), and that growers should be aware of what form they are using, and if it fits the application. Ask your retailer what form your boron source is in if you are applying it this fall, sodium borate or sodium calcium borate. There is perhaps minimal benefit to fall applying Solubor (sodium borate) on fields once the alfalfa is dormant, for example, unless experience has shown otherwise. If you farm in an area where there isn’t adequate rain or snow for leaching, the point on source maybe mute. Not growing alfalfa? There is no purpose to fall applying water soluble boron sources without an actively growing crop when leaching is a concern.

Figure 10 - % of Water Soluble Boron Leached through Column Experiment

Source: https://acsess.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.2136/sssaj2018.02.0065

Forage Fertility Pictures and Expected Yield Response – Volume 3/3

I recently completed a presentation on forage fertility, specifically around alfalfa, and felt this is a good spot to share it. This is the week and writing about nitrogen and magnesium.

One difference between forages and cash crops when it comes to nitrogen is either the need for repeated applications over the course of the growing season (with Italian type ryegrass mixes), or nothing due to high concentration of alfalfa.  One difference when it comes to Magnesium, between forages and grain or oilseed crops, is grass tetany, which is a condition that occurs in early spring grass growth, where grassy forages are low in Mg, either due to high levels of ammonium and/or potassium fertilizers or low soil Mg levels.


Alfalfa typically gets enough nitrogen from the symbiotic relationship with Rhizobium bacteria. Soils without adequate soil pH may benefit from 30-50 units of N /ac as a stop gap to increase yields (U of W Alfalfa Management Guide), until the stand is terminating, and/or lime can be applied. By applying nitrogen in alfalfa/grass blends, you will be “pushing” species selection in favour of the grass portion of the mix. Frequency of N for grasses in a forage mix depends on the ratio and type of species in the mix. Typically apply 40-60 units of N ahead of every cut of grasses. This would not be the case with Timothy, which only provides 1 cut per-season with minimal regrowth.

Picture 1 - Nitrogen Deficiency in Alfalfa (Yara)
Picture 2 - Nitrogen Deficiency in Winter Wheat (IPNI)


Magnesium is the main molecule that acts as the driver of photosynthesis within the plant. Therefore, you when see patches of yellow within the leaf, it is areas without adequate magnesium to carry out photosynthesis. Magnesium requirements are likely to vary throughout the province from zero to having parent material with little content and requiring fertilization every year to avoid impacting crop performance. Most common sources of Magnesium are Magnesium Oxy-Sulphate, K-Mag/Trio (Sulphate of Potash -Magnesia) and Dolomitic Lime. 3 tons of alfalfa on a dry matter basis will remove approximately 14 lbs of Magnesium, which is the same as 50 bu/ac of Soybeans AND 180 bu/ac of corn. If you have not recently soil tested for magnesium, are getting poor hay yields, have a respectable stand and fertilize heavily with potash/manure, it might be time to. The cause maybe low magnesium levels, being further suppressed with potassium applications.

Picture 3 - Magnesium Deficiency in Alfalfa (IPNI)
Picture 4 - IPNI - Magnesium deficiency on Winter Wheat (IPNI)

Source: IPNI = IPNI Crop Nutrient Deficiency Photo Database;  Yara = Screenshot of Yara CheckIT App

“Learn how to learn from those you disagree with, or even offend you. See if you can find the truth in what they believe.

– Kevin Kelly