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The Cropwalker - Volume 3 Issue 37

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Crop Conditions

Soybeans – well as everyone said in areas where we got rain there are best yields ever. Lots of farm averages around 70, but some areas with no rain 20-25 bu/ac. Overall, we are heading for highest soybean yields ever. Currently harvest is about 35% complete with some growers done others have not started. Essex Kent North Lambton only 10% done. Moistures are low. Some fields are down to 9%. In last week’s Cropwalker we published the week’s scale of yield lost with low moisture, we republished it again below. The decision of harvesting now vs. waiting for a rain and wetter beans is a hard one to make. I vote for harvesting now. You will take a hit but beans can start to split and with weather patterns we could get into a wet spell that lasts for many days. And you can get the wheat in, do less compaction on dry ground. Corn while most Ontario corn fields received frost, the overall affect will be minimal since most fields were well along. Corn wasn’t drying down very quickly last week because of lack of wind. Expect corn to start drying more quickly now. Question is do you wait for it to field dry to moisture of commerce, or harvest when in the low 20’s? Corn silage harvest is almost done is some areas. Yields are average, but expect quality to be good. Wheat planting has started into very dry soil. Some comments about planting 3” to moisture. I am not a big fan of that. If you have moisture at 2” I can go along with planting at 2”. Otherwise I would keep 1 ½- 1 ¾ “ depth and wait for the rain to come. It is fall, and we will get rain. Forages harvesting of alfalfa continues as growers try to have lots of feed on hand in case something goes wrong next year. Hot dry weather means quality is very good.


Things to do This week

1.     Check any wheat that is planted to see if you are satisfied to carry on (mainly seed depth)

2.    Check market price of next year’s wheat and consider forward selling or putting in resting orders at a price point you want.

3.    Check all soybean fields for green bean areas

4.    Arrange soil sampling of all fields, especially forage fields, if you have not already arranged sampling

5.    Check grain corn moisture, there are producers harvesting right now to take advantage of old crop prices.

6.    Check soybean stubble for weed control

7.     Walk cover crop/wheat stubble to evaluate need for fall burndowns.

Comment from growers over the years - (Repeat from last week) “If these soybeans ever get back to 16%, I am taking them off.” So why not start by taking soybeans at 16% now and gain the many benefits of an early harvest. By starting at 16% you may avoid harvesting soybeans that are too dry. The table below shows the penalty of delivering soybeans below moisture of commerce.

Figure 2 - Impact of Overly Dry Soybeans

Green soybeans A lot of fields have “green soybeans for various reasons. Reason include lack of soil moisture at a critical time, uneven emergence and even insect and disease pressures. These beans are 2 categories 1) green seed coat which will turn colour after harvest. 2) Green all the way through the beans which sometimes do not turn colour. This year some appear to be turning colour. What to do? Check your fields and see if there are areas that are green vs. areas that are not green. Crusher beans allow up to 3% green beans. IP beans will have different standards. If you have green beans in IP soybeans check with your end user and follow their harvesting advice. Probably IP beans will be checked closely for off types because of the great potential yields. One suggestion from a grain originator is “sometimes waiting another few days for these jelly beans to mature can help.”

Question I can’t put dry fertilizer with my wheat seed. I don’t have liquid on my drill and I don’t want to mix a dry fertilizer with my wheat seed. I don’t like the corrosive nature of fertilizer in my drill. What can I do? Answer There is some research that is not talked about much regarding dry fertilizer broadcast before winter wheat. The highest yields come from seed placed fertilizer with 100 lbs/ac dry fertilizer getting a bit of a yield increase over 5 gallons of a 6-24-6. However, on-farm-trials looking at broadcasting 200 lbs/ac of a dry fertilizer gives yields almost equal to seed placed fertilizer. In these on farm trials the dry fertilizer was not incorporated. Incorporating the dry fertilizer should give a higher yield than surface applied and not worked in. These used various rates of liquid and seed placed dry fertilizer but only one rate of broadcast fertilizer. You can read a report at

Wheat Starter Report at Ontario Soil and Crop

PDF of Wheat Report

If your soil is testing 30 or more, you may not see a response to starter fertilizer on wheat.

Figure 3 - Wheat Response to Phosphorus Starter

Phosphorus Availability at Different Soil Temperatures

Figure 4 - Phosphorus Availability at Various Temperatures

Handling Cover Crops

The question is when to spray them off. And what to use. The answer depends on what weeds are also there and what tillage you will be using. If you have perennial sow thistle and or vetch consider spraying right now. The addition of dicamba to glyphosate will improve control. Both of these weeds will go dormant very soon in the Huron county area. In Essex they will grow another 10-14 days or so. You will get more mass from the cover crop by waiting but you want to control these weeds. If you have red clover use dicamba plus Roundup. The other issue if you do not have perennial weeds is what tillage you will use. If using conservation tillage, you want the soil to be dry. That means by spraying now you should have dry soil conditions in October to be able to do conservation tillage without smearing the soil. In 2014 we had a “Tillage For Cover Crops” demonstration at Canada’ Outdoor Farm Show. In that demonstration there were over a dozen pieces of tillage equipment that very nicely handled a cover crop of red clover burnt off with dicamba and glyphosate. If you are mould board ploughing you can wait. But mould board ploughing defeats some of the benefits of a cover crop.

How to Measure Wheat Planting Depth When There Is a Lot of Trash

You have to figure out what the soil will be like when the soil has settled after the fall rains. One way is to take a 2X4 board 1-2 feet long, stand on it to squash the soil. Longer or wider boards will not squish the soil as much. Then dig down into this squished soil. Planting depth should be 1 ¼ - 1 ½” deep. You have to check multiple areas in the field. Typically, headlands and knolls are where seed will not be as deep.

Calculating dry corn from wet corn

The simple weight loss due to the removal of grain moisture represents the greatest percentage of the total grain weight shrinkage due to drying and is easily calculated using a handheld calculator or a smartphone calculator app. In general terms, you first convert the “wet” weight (greater than 15% moisture) to absolute dry weight (0% moisture). Then you convert the absolute dry weight back to a market-standard “dry” weight at 15% grain moisture.


  1. The initial percent dry matter content depends on the initial grain moisture content. For example, if the initial grain moisture content is 20%, then the initial percent dry matter content is 80% (e.g., 100% – 20%).
  2. If the desired ending grain moisture content is 15% (the typical market standard), then the desired ending percent dry matter content is 85% (100% – 15%).
  3. Multiply the weight of the “wet” grain by the initial percent dry matter content, then divide the result by the desired ending percent dry matter content.


  1. 100,000 lbs of grain at 20% moisture = 80,000 lbs of absolute dry matter (i.e., 100,000 x 0.80).
  2. 80,000 lbs of absolute dry matter = 94,118 lbs of grain at 15% moisture (i.e., 80,000 / 0.85).
  3. 94,118 lbs of grain at 15% moisture = 1681 bu of grain at 15% moisture (i.e., 94,118 / 56).

One take-home reminder from this little exercise is the fact that the grain trade allows you to sell water in the form of grain moisture… up to a maximum market-standard 15% grain moisture content (or 14% for long term storage). Take advantage of this fact and maximize your “sellable” grain weight by delivering corn grain to the elevator at moisture levels no lower than 15% moisture content. In other words, if you deliver corn to the elevator at grain moisture contents lower than 15%, you will be paid for fewer bushels than you otherwise could be paid for.

From Dr Bob Neilson Purdue University

Question? Is it too late to plant a cover crop? Answer It is not too late to plant cereal rye. If using for a cover crop 50-60 lbs per acre is lots. If planting for forage next spring suggest a higher seeding rate of around 100 lbs/acre. Not much point of applying nitrogen this late this fall.

Crop Removal for High Yield Soybeans

This is the public service reminder that big yields pull off big removals. See below.

Figure 5 - Soybean Fertility Removal at Various Yields

Did I plant the optimal corn population?

A common practice I have seen with those that write variable rate seed prescriptions is to figure out the yield per management zone per population. The rule of thumb is that if you yield is around 8 bushels per 1,000 plants, you aren’t putting down too much seed or giving up yield potential. If you getting 4-5 bushels per 1,000 plants, it may indicate you can reduce your populations, if you are getting 10-12 bushels per 1,000 plants, it may indicate that in that zone you can increase your populations. A key part in this is understanding what the yield environment you are working in, and the hybrid specific response at a given population.

Soil pH vs. Buffer pH

When you receive a soil test back, there will be two pH columns, pH, and Buffer pH. On most soil test reports, you will likely not see a buffer pH if the soil pH is over 6.5 to 7.0 (varies by lab).

Soil pH is the water extracted or active pH of the soil. The soil buffer pH is generated by the lab using a buffering material to gauge the need for liming material. The purpose of the buffer pH is to determine how resistant a given soil is to a change in pH. The soil pH will tell you that there is acidity in the soil, whereas the buffer pH will tell you how much acid is there.

Which of soil amendments causes soil pH to increase?

A common misconception (which I had to at one point), is that you add calcium-based products to increase soil pH. This is incorrect. We had carbonate based products, which react with soil acidity to neutralize to increase soil pH. A lot of the just happen to contain calcium. This is the same reaction that occurs when you mix vinegar with sodium bicarbonate (baking soda), no calcium involved, it is the carbonate doing the work.

This is why gypsum (calcium sulphate), is not suitable as a liming material to correct acid soils, it contains no carbonate.

Here is the reaction when Calcium Carbonate (Calcitic Lime) is added to the soil.

CaCO3 + 2H+ -> H2O + Ca2+ + CO2

Efficient Fertilizer Use

Step number one for those farming acid soils is to ensure soil pH is adjusted properly to ensure maximum fertility use efficiency, see below. In the chart below, we have the relative fertilizer effectiveness compared across various soil pHs. Lastly the “fertilizer wasted” column is the average of the three products that was unavailable due to soil pH related factors. See example the graph below as an example for phosphorus.

Figure 6 - Fertility Efficiency at Various Soil pHs
Figure 7 - Soil Phosphorus Fixation at Various Soil pH Levels

Source: https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/the_peaks_and_valleys_of_phosphorus_fixation

“Perhaps the most counter-intuitive truth of the universe is that the more you give to others, the more you’ll get. Understanding this is the beginning of wisdom."

- Kevin Kelly