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The Cropwalker - Volume 3 Issue 35

Always read and follow label directions.

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Crop Conditions

Crop conditions Soybean harvest is still a week away. General consensus is that harvest will start next Monday (Sept 21st). Lots of top growth on soybeans and talk of conservation tillage before planting wheat on fields with a lot of trash. Ideally it would be preferable that you have properly maintained and set up your chopper and spreader on the back of the combine.  Corn silage harvest is started but whole plant silage is wetter than grain moisture suggested. As a result, first silos are running. Forages generally we have gone from, poor supply to a good supply. Fourth cut and new seeding is yielding very good. Winter wheat generally planting has not started, likely will in another week.


Things to do this week

1.    Check everything on the drill for planting wheat. Tires, disc openers, seed and fertilizer augers, liquid starter pump.

2.   Visit landlords that you rent from and give them a crop update. If shut-in the last few months, they will enjoy a visit.

3.    Check cover crop for diseases. Spray if you intended to harvest as forage.

4.   Fertilize forage fields, especially if you had good yields.

5.    Read your combine operators manual. Just heard an equipment dealer say that farmers only use part of the technology that is available on todays’ combines.

Canada’s Digital Farm Show

There are several demonstrations available for viewing this week for the online version of Canada’s Outdoor Farm Show. These include fast, high capacity baling equipment, planting soybeans into corn stalks, and broadcasting cereal rye into standing soybeans.

To sign up and view the show, visit; outdoorfarmshow.com

MAP vs Microessentials SZ in a wheat starter

The benefits of a wheat starter fertilizer are well documented. There is limited public research to suggest an inherent reason for Microessentials SZ (MESZ) to be better than MAP as a winter wheat starter. (see chart below). However, sometimes the quality of MAP is inferior to the quality of MESZ. MESZ also has zinc (Zn) which may not add to wheat yield but will over time build Zn soil levels. MESZ also has Sulphur (S) which is better applied in the spring but will not hurt being applied in the fall. I have never seen Sulphur deficiency in the spring on fields where growers have used MESZ the previous fall. I have seen it with MAP. Mosaic suggests that make up of MESZ improves phosphorus nutrient use efficiency when applied at the same rate of phosphorus per acre.


Winter Wheat Variety Selection

The GoCereals.ca website list the characteristics of all wheat varieties. There are a number of great wheat varieties that have a Combined Fusarium Rating of MR (Moderately resistant). Since there are these good varieties with these rating you probably should have the bulk of your acres planted to one of them. The DON levels for these varieties are based only on DON levels from inoculated provincial trials.

TKW and seed mortality and germination and how they impact winter wheat seeding rate.

The term TKW refers to thousand kernel weight, usually expressed in grams. Seeding by kernel weight ensures that you have the same number of seeds per acre seeded, regardless of weight differences from batch to batch or variety to variety. The next factor is adjusting for seed germination. The industry tends to assume you are seeing with 90-95% germ, as this is the requirement to meet Certified #1 seed (90% germination). The issue is when producers use bin run seed, and likely have not cleaned the material, and haven’t done a germination test. You are assuming the germ is 90% but in reality, without testing you have no idea. Seed mortality is a field specific issue, and even though you may have seed with 90% germ, you are unlikely to get 90% of the seed planted coming up. To calculate seed mortality would mean knowing how many seeds were seeded, what the germ rate of the seed was and doing a plant stand count to figure out the difference.

Okay, great, but does any of this really matter? The reason I bring it up is a few wheat growers have commented that they don’t know where they would start on trying to do variable rate wheat seed. The answer is staring at us in seed mortality. That also means having a map of the field on factors that influence seed and plant mortality in winter wheat and doing stand counts to see what the relative differences are between the zones. We don’t need to be managing seeding rates down to the last pound of seed, however, I do see differences between zones of 10 to 40%, at those levels managing for seed mortality is doable.

Figure 1 - WW Seeding Rate Impact by Germination and Mortality Rates

Optimum Winter Wheat Seeding Date and Rate

Figure 2 - Optimal Winter Wheat Planting Date (OCCC)

The map above is taken from Ontario Cereal Committee Trials. The optimum seeding rate is suggested to be 1.5 M seeds per acre at the optimum seeding date (adjust based on soil type). Seeding before these dates reduce you seeding rate and increase your seeding rate by 200,000 seeds per acre per week after your optimum seeding date up to a maximum of 2.2 M seeds per acre.

Tillering in wheat

Phil Needham suggests that optimal head count per acre is about 450 to 600 plants per square meter. If you plant a variety that puts out 2 tillers, how many seeds per acre do you need? What if you are planting late, and only have 0.5 to 1 tiller per plant?

Figure 3 - Tillering Impact on Seeding Rate for Target Heads per Square Yard

Tillering in Winter Wheat – Journal Article

A recent study published in Frontier in Plant Science suggests that the only factor that matters when it comes to establishing winter wheat seeding rates is head per square yard or square meter. I’ve been commenting on this to peers for the last year that we need data on tillering capacity of winter wheat genetics to truly establish what the “proper” seeding rate is for winter wheat. In the research completed in Kansas along with a meta-analysis, they found that plant stand counts were less predictive of agronomic optimum plant density compared to head counts. The research study found that you could separate wheat varieties into two categories, one which had low tillers per plant, and a high tillers per plant group (2x as many tillers). The optimal seed rate for a given yield environment depends on what the tiller potential was for that variety.


Question I am planting cereal rye after I take off corn silage. I have access to dairy and hog manure. What should I do this fall and next spring to manage this cereal rye for forage?

Answer Since you do not have a manure analysis, I will use averages. On average dairy manure is about 16-8-27 per 1,000 gallons. Hog manure on average is 20-10-20 per 1,000 gallons. You have to take into account logistics and some common sense. Ideally you would only need about 2,000 gallons per acre of either. However, from my experience 3-5000 gallons per acre are more average normal application rates. This will be enough P and K for a good crop of cereal rye next spring. You need 50-60 lbs /acre N next spring. Figure 50% of the N will be lost. So, the rate next spring will be 0-30 lbs/ac actual N. You really need to get a good analysis of your manure and ensure the manure is evenly applied.

Would you buy a tonne of fertilizer if you did not know the analysis? But you do apply manure without knowing the analysis. If you don’t have the time or resources to do it yourself, hire it done.

Magnesium (Mg) Secondary Nutrient

I am seeing more soil reports coming back with Mg levels well below 100. I feel that at 100 you probably have spots in the field below 70. Bushel for bushel wheat needs twice as much Mg as does corn. A 100 bu crop of wheat needs 25 to 30 lbs per acre Mg. There is no calibration work in Ontario to suggest levels of Mg to apply at different soil test levels. I like to keep Mg soil test levels above 100. The least expensive way is with ¾ tonne per acre of dolomitic lime. On light soils this will last 2-3 years. On heavier soils this will last 4-5 years. You have to soil test to see for sure. This will cost about $45/ac, depending on freight and method of application. An alternative way is to use K-Mag at 50-100 lbs/ac yearly. This gives you 5-11 lbs/ac Mg and twice as much S. Number of reasons for lowering Mg levels. These include higher yields and less mould board ploughing. Over time, applied Mg slowly works its way downwards in the soil. Mould board ploughing brings it back up. But it is better to leave the plough in the shed and apply Mg. Any dairy farmer with low Mg soil levels has to be careful of not getting “grass tetany” or hypomagnesemia”. You can balance the ration to account for low Mg in a ration but better to start in the field.

From a reader in an article you refer to “Roundup Ready alfalfa”

We need to be clear about this – there is no Roundup Ready alfalfa sold in Canada, there is only “HarvXtra alfalfa with Roundup Ready technology”. It may seem like splitting hairs, but there IS RR alfalfa sold in the USA (as well as HarvXtra with RR technology), but not in Canada, so, ideally one should refer to HarvXtra alfalfa with RR technology in Canada just so it’s understood that there is no RR alfalfa here.

Jay Hackney, MSc., Agr.

Trait Stewardship Lead

Forage Genetics International

Editor’s note: there is no mention of HarvXtra on the Roundup labels in Canada, only Roundup Ready alfalfa, or alfalfa with Roundup Ready technology.

Who wouldn’t want a red clover stand like this?

Picture 1 - Red Clover Stand swallowing 4-wheeler

At wheat harvest this red clover was barely visible. This is the stand early September. With a few weeks to go this will be great to increase organic matter and supply nitrogen to next year’s crop. Using Eragon prior to seeding your wheat this fall helps get a stand like this, due to lower winter annual competition in the spring.

Let’s get more red clover seeded next spring

1.    Surveys suggest 25% of growers underseed winter wheat to red clover. I believe less than 25% of our wheat acres gets red clover.

2.   Not all fields are right for red clover. Pick your fields.

3.    High fleabane pressure suggests red clover will not do well.

4.   You need a clean field preferably something that had weed control in the fall. My preferred treatment is Eragon. Infinity works but due to temperature restrictions, growers are reluctant to spray it in the fall.

5.    Some Conservation Authorities have grant money to encourage cover crops.

6.   You need an aggressive wheat stand to suppress fleabane. Using a starter fertilizer with winter wheat helps.

7.    Tillage before planting winter wheat helps get a better red clover stand the following spring (Research Dr. Bill Deen U. of G.)

8.   Ensure you have sulphur in your spring fertilizer program. Clovers need sulphur.

Using Eragon before winter wheat

Application Timing:    Pre-Harvest Burndown, Pre-Plant, or Pre-Emergent (3 days after planting, per product label).

Eragon LQ                59.2 mL/ac (20 acres per jug)

Merge                        400 mL/ac (20 acres per jug)

In no-till, add

Glyphosate                recommended rate per target weeds. DO NOT BACK OFF THE GLYPHOSATE RATE. Most perennials require 1.34L/ac rate.

Yes, Eragon LQ can be applied to tilled or bare/semi-bare ground. Incorporation (tillage, bean pullers, etc.) is not an issue. Eragon LQ is broadleaf selective and therefore very safe on winter wheat or cereal/winter rye.

Am I spraying Eragon too early?

I have had been asked this question more than I can count on two hands in the last few days. In general, I see growers and retailers waiting TOO long to spray Eragon, when I compare what they have done relative to the label. In these instances, you give up days when you could be spraying and/or harvesting, at least you delay the first few fields you could be doing while waiting for the others to be ready. If you do spray too early, i.e. when there are too many leaves on the plant, they will fuse to the plant, and not drop off the plant, causing considerable dust in the combine during harvest. This may lead to grading issues on dry beans and IP soybeans due to seed tagging from the dust when trying to harvest at night.

For a copy of the Eragon staging guide, you can find it here; https://agro.basf.ca/East/Products/Related_Files/ERAGON_StagingGuide_v8.pdf

Text from the Eragon tech sheet, screen shots from the staging guide.

Figure 4 - Eragon Pre-Harvest Staging
Figure 5 - Eragon Staging in Soybeans (From Eragon Staging Guide)
Figure 6 - Eragon Staging in Navy Beans (From Eragon Staging Guide)

Why a bare ground application? If Canada Fleabane is an issue, the Kixor molecule has excellent contact and soil-applied residual activity on Fleabane. As we know, Fleabane emerges in the shoulder months during cooler or more moderate temperatures. Fall is peak emergence timing, and therefore the best time to target this weed species. If there is no green tissue in the field – IE no weeds present – due to thorough tillage, then the Merge can be removed along with the glyphosate. However, if light tillage or bean puller disturbance has injured weeds but left rosettes and even a few days regrowth, leave the Merge in the tank to facilitate Eragon contact and uptake by the weed.

Notes from Ken Currah BASF

A quick hitter chart, do you need to spray Eragon?

Figure 7 - Do I need to spray Eragon this fall?

Why Uneven Crop Residue Causes So Many Issues in Winter Wheat

I’m shameless borrowing this from a conversation I had recently with Jeremy Boychyn, the Agronomy Research Extension Specialist with the Alberta Wheat & Barley Commissions

Poor residue distribution leads to

1.    Variable Soil Temperature

2.   Variable Soil Moisture

3.    Variable Nutrient Distribution

4.   Variable Nutrient Tie-Up

5.    Variable Seeding Depth

Which leads to;

Excess and Variable Tillering

Which leads to

Variable Staging of In-Crop Input Applications

Which leads to

Missed Yield and Profit Capture

Which leads to

Less Christmas presents

Which leads to

Unhappy family

SPREAD your residue properly!

Need to earn the right to reduce soybean populations

As you are harvesting your soybeans this fall, one comment I wanted to make from doing pre-harvest walks the last few days is that you need to earn the right to reduce soybeans populations.

1.     Weed control program has to be firing on all cylinders, if you cut back populations and haven’t been on you’re A-game when it comes to weed control, those weeds will let you know very quickly.

2.    Soybeans WILL respond to fertility, especially when populations are cut back. But you need to have it in combination of strong background fertility, and/or a great starter program (with either liquid 2x2 or dry 2x2 or strip-till band). In speaking with other agronomists, they have seen a positive ROI to banding fertility close to soybean plants, especially under no-till conditions.

3.    Proper depth control, to improve the number of plants emerging and the evenness of emergence.

Soybean Lodging

Seeing heavy amounts of soybean lodging in fields especially those with a history of manure/overlaps. Make note to reduce populations in these fields in the future if planning on using the same or similar genetics in the future.

Picture 2 - Lodged soybeans relative to unlodged soybeans

Alfalfa Response to Fertility

Wayne Black has been posting his alfalfa fertility response trials, here is one for example. There is a lot of hay being left on the table by not treating forages like a “true” crop.

Soil Fertility Release

Had a conversation earlier this week that you can have two areas within the field with the same soil test value, but due to water availability have different rates of nutrient release. The next generation of soil fertility response recommendations will be able to consider the impact of topsoil depth, water and soil temperature on nutrient availability and added input response. In this instance both areas had the same fertilizer treatment and came out of 30 years of pasture.

Figure 8 - Soil Test Values and the Effects of Nutrient Release
Picture 3 - Low nitorgen availability on a knoll
Picture 4 - Adequate fertility on a lower slope position

“Always demand a deadline. A deadline weeds out the extraneous and the ordinary. It prevents you from trying to make it perfect, so you have to make it different. Different is better."

- Kevin Kelly