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The Cropwalker - Volume 3 Issue 38

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Crop Conditions

Soybeans harvest came to a standstill last week due to rain. Maybe 50% off now. Our survey indicated 35% harvested on September 27. Fields at the tale end of harvest were getting quite dry, moisture levels may have improved, but ground conditions will be much wetter. Wheat planting is well underway under excellent conditions. First fields are up in 7-10 days and looking great. Corn harvest started last week with some growers getting old crop price until the end of September. Yields in Huron county are good. Corn silage is start and go due to too wet then too dry. Most corn silage is harvested. Some frosted fields are very dry, and some fields may have gotten wetter after last week’s rains. Cover crop summer seeded forage oats will start harvest in another 10 days or so.


Things to do this week

1.    Check corn moisture to monitor its’ progress down and check stalk strength

2.   Check corn for moulds

3.    If applying manure, take a representative sample

4.   Make a shortlist of which corn seed companies you want to deal with this year.

5.    Make a list of characteristics you want in your 2021 corn hybrid.

Corn Harvest is the Most Dangerous Time of the Year on the Farm

We all know of horror stories of deaths and injuries at corn harvest. Many were caused by being in a hurry. Some were caused by fatigue. Best safety reminder is to just slow down. And if you are wondering if a certain practice you are thinking about doing is safe, it probably is not.

Yield Loss Due to Spraying 2,4-D Before Winter Wheat

The research at the right is a summary of 8 trials conducted by Dr. Peter Sikkema, University of Guelph, Ridgetown campus. The check is Roundup at 1.34 L/ac. All other treatments had Roundup at 1.34 L/ac plus the herbicide indicated. I discussed these results with Mike Cowbrough, OMAFRA weed specialist. Mike pointed out that these herbicides were applied just before planting. He expects a much lower yield loss if you waited 10-14 days between spraying and planting. Mike also pointed out that statistically there probably is no difference between spraying Roundup with or without 2,4-D. There probably is a real loss by spraying Distinct® just before planting. So, if you need to spray burndowns on wheat stubble with Distinct, do it after spraying your pre-plant burndowns, or triple rinse in-between.

Figure 1 - Wheat Yield Response to Pre-Plant Herbicide

Seed Wheat or Spray First

Once the soybeans are off seed wheat ASAP. If you did not use a preharvest, try and get Roundup on before wheat emerges. You should have 3-4 days between seeding and wheat emergence (provided the seed trench is closed).

Wheat Planting Depth

I was asked what depth should growers seed their wheat. My comment is, deep enough to cut the trash, and, close the seed trench, but not less than 1-1.25”. I have seen too many wheat fields get ripped up in the spring because of either shallow seeding, and/or open trenches. Majority of wheat should emerge within in a 1-3-day window for maximum yields (similar to corn).

Winter Wheat Seeding Rate

If you are stilling planning on putting winter wheat in this week, at a minimum you should be bumping up the seeding rate by 200,000 seeds/acre over the “optimal” seeding rate. Last week we discussed how phosphorus availability is much lower in cool soil temperatures, seed placed phosphorus will be critical for October seeded wheat.

Wheat Yield and Red Clover is Better with Tillage

Research conducted by Dr. Bill Deen, University of Guelph (over 10 years ago) has shown that winter wheat with conventional tillage yielded 6.7% higher than wheat planted with a true no-till drill. His research also showed on average that wheat conventionally tilled produced 2008 kg/ha red clover mass as opposed to no-till that produced only 1364 kg/ha red clover. If you are having trouble establishing red clover consider some tillage (light skiff with a tandem disc or Salford Vertical Tillage Unit) where you really want red clover.

Is this corn rootworm damage?

There is a lot of chatter on twitter and other places about rootworm resistance. Now suddenly it is showing up everywhere. But not all cases are really rootworm resistance. The example here is wind damage. Could it have been worse because of root worm? Maybe. The way to check is dig the roots and check for tunneling. Even now you should be able to see the tunneling. Rootworm larva eat along the inside of the other layer of cells on corn plants. Check the largest roots. When the rootworm was active in July some of the current roots were not there. There are other clues as to whether it is rootworm. Did you get a lot of wind? Is your first-year corn also showing effects? Are all the plants leaning the same way? Typically, with rootworm corn plants fall over in a non-random pattern. They will fall both ways across the row and maybe even down the row. Do not be surprised if you have some rootworm feeding with a hybrid that is resistant to rootworm. We are spoiled with the genetic resistance to corn borer.

Picture 1- Goosenecked corn due to CRW
Picture 2 - CRW tunnelling

Question How much manure can I apply and when to alfalfa?

Answer You do not want to burn alfalfa by applying too much manure. Now that we are into October we do not have to worry about regrowth. You can safely apply manure now as long as you do not make ruts or cause compaction or damage crowns by driving on them. This means ground must be dry. (If the ground is dry, then applying 5,000 gallons per acre of liquid dairy is a common practice on established stands. I do not like to apply liquid manure to new seedings.) Probably not going to be dry enough in alfalfa fields to apply manure without damaging plants. That means you will have to apply to other fields, preferably fields that will be seeded to corn or forages next spring. You can apply to ground going into soybeans but this is a waste of the nitrogen portion. All manure should be incorporated if not applied to a living crop.

Question I am buying cover crop oats from a neighbour. How do we establish a fair price?

Oatlage makes a very good heifer feed. Lower in energy than corn silage and lower in protein than good haylage. Last week we gave you an example of converting wet corn to dry corn. To convert wet oatlage to dry feed is similar.

To make a deal you need to establish

1.     Weight per acre of forage

2.    Price per pound of dry hay

If you get 5 bales to the acre each weighing 600 lbs you get 3000 lbs of wet feed (65% moisture) per acre

This equates to 3000 X .35 = 1050 lbs. /ac dry matter per acre

If you take it to “dry hay “moisture of 14% this is 1050/0.86= 1220 lbs per acre of dry hay.

Suppose hay is selling for $0.05-0.06 per pound this oatlage is worth $60-73 per acre in the field if it was quality hay standing in the field. If the feed value is lower it will be worth less.

Corn hybrids selection for 2021

You are the buyer. Set your priorities as to what you expect from your hybrid. When you meet with your corn seed salesperson it will help if you list all the things you want and prioritize. How much yield are you willing to give up getting Western Bean Cutworm (WBC) protection?

1.    Do you want yield at all costs?

2.   Do you want a hybrid you can plant early into cold soil?

3.    Do you want WBC protection?

4.   What herbicide resistance do you want?

5.    Do you want rootworm resistance?

6.   Do you want fusarium tolerance /lower DON levels?

7.    How big a factor is price? Generally, corn seed companies set price based on benefits to their seed. If you do not need certain genetic traits, then do not buy them unless there is no extra cost. (Every time I have priced growing conventional corn hybrids with similar genetics to Roundup-Ready or traited corn, it hasn’t been worth switching).

Corn Hybrid Selection – What do Various Terms Mean?

1.     Crop Heat Units – Likely the best known, defines the length of growth season available in heat units. Based upon day time and night time, minimum and maximum temperatures. This system, which started in 1964 as Corn Heat Units, has expanded for use in other regions and crops (i.e. soybeans). Originally the Ontario Corn Committee decided the CHU rating of a hybrid. Now the corn companies do this.

2.    Relative Maturity – each seed company has their own definition, used as a guide to compare hybrids within a company’s line up using calendar days. Best to compare black layer, rather than types of relative maturity (i.e. silking).

3.    Flex vs Determinate- refers to how the corn cob is affected by environmental conditions; Flex ears can have a change in kernel number (both rows and length), but typically less influenced by kernel size. Determinate ears have a relatively stable number of kernels but are more influenced by kernel size. One seed agronomist commented he likes to put flex plants on sand/hills, and determinate on the best areas, so that he can push populations on the best ground.

4.    Lodging/stalk strength – should be or is divided into a couple of ratings. Greensnap – essential stalk snap due to high winds. Root strength for root lodging. Typically stalk lodging is due to the big three stalk rots, which have ratings as well.

5.    Herbicide Traits – A large percentage of corn hybrids have the Roundup Ready trait. Those with Herculex (SmartStax) will also have the Liberty Trait. Can I spray Liberty on my SmartStax? If it has refuge in the bag, then yes you can.

6.    Insect Traits – There are essentially two types of traits on the market, but multiple modes of action. Above ground traits, for stalk rots and ear pests, and below ground traits, for root feeding. There is a difference in above ground traits, as those with Viptera are the only hybrids on the market that provide protection for Western Bean Cutworm. Understand what trait package you are purchasing. Interesting in understanding more? See the link for a summary of the traits and what they control.

7.     Herbicide Sensitivity – Seed suppliers screen hybrids for sensitivity to group 4s (dicamba) and Sulfonylurea (Elim/Ultim) herbicides. This is important to note in areas with glyphosate resistant weeds where they would like to use dicamba in-crop as a rescue treatment. If a hybrid does have sensitivity, make note of it when planning your in-crop herbicide program.

8.    Test weight – In my opinion, growers have not been paying as much attention to TW. A disaster waiting to happen is a long day corn planted with a low test weight. Doing this is a good way of getting sample grade corn in a backwards year.

9.    Stay green – Can be critical for late-season plant health scenarios (i.e. silage, high yield environments or over wintering corn)

10. Emergence – an agronomy rating for how it comes out of the ground.

11.  Seedling Vigour – an agronomy rating for early season stress tolerance.

12.  There are many more ratings, ask about them, before placing your order for 2021.

Question What can I expect in corn hybrids with Western Bean Cutworm (WBC) resistance?

There are a significant number of hybrids that have genetic resistance to WBC. These are the first generation of genetics. As such expect to give up yield (5-8%) to get WBC resistance. So, you will have to decide how bad you want WBC resistance. That is, how much yield are you willing to give up.

When is the fall stubble burndown window closed? Basically, after the third or fourth hard/killing frost. Even weeds that don’t show much visual symptomology this fall after a late treatment will still be easier to deal with come spring.

Figure 2 - Frost event and time to wait to spray glyphosate

Potash Goes with Chaff

When you spread crop residue, you are also spreading potash. This is another good reason to have a proper working chaff spreader. If you only cover three quarters the width of your head, you concentrate potash in bands and short the rest of the field.

Two New Phosphorus Products Coming to Market

There are two new phosphorus products coming to market, once has been launched in Canada with commercial availability, the other is in the early stages of being released this fall.

TopPhos – Timac Agro

Timac Agro is a division of family owned Groupe Roullier of France with strong aspirations in changing how fertility products are used in Canada. One of the first products they have launched is called TopPhos. TopPhos differs from other commercially available phosphorus products as it is complexed with an organic chelate (humic acid) instead of ammonia during the manufacturing process. In Canada the analysis is 8-30-0-6.4 S or 8-30-0-4.8 S depending on the market. Timac suggests that this unique chemical form provides better phosphorus solubility within the soil than super single or triple and ammoniated phosphates. The thought process is the complexing process prevents phosphorus tie up across a range of soil pH. As a granulated product you can use this phosphorus source to replace MAP in your starter or broadcast blend. Due to the price point, I expect that growers would benefit most from the use of this product as a starter source of phosphorus. To learn more ask your retailer about TOP-PHOS or visit Timac Agro’s Canadian website at; https://ca.timacagro.com/nutrition-vegetale/

Susterra – Mosaic

Mosaic has done a soft launch of their new phosphate, Susterra. Susterra is a homogenous prill like their Microessentials phosphate products. This phosphate source is likely to be used as a starter or broadcast in the spring and can be mixed with a phosphorus-source like Microessentials SZ. The analysis is 14-24-0-10 S-15 OM. It is “boosted with recycled organic matter”. Compared to using MAP and Ammonium Sulphate in corn, Mosaic’s research suggests a 3-4 bu/ac yield bump using Susterra on 200 bushel/ac corn. To learn more visit www.cropnutrition.com

Cover Crops as an indicator of soil limiting factors When checking your cover crops, they can be an excellent source for identifying soil limiting factors that may hinder your crops, for example, when soil sampling fields with an Oat cover crop, the differences in plant height and colour provide an excellent indication of the interaction of nitrogen mineralization and water availability within the field. Another example is when sampling fields with high organic matter content, Oats tend to show up as Manganese deficient in these areas. While a soil application of Manganese is unlikely to be beneficial, these are fields to try a foliar application in the future.

Picture 3 - Oats are highly responsive to Moisture x Nutrient Release
Picture 4 - Oats on high OM soils tend to show micronutrient stresses
Picture 5 - Area of high OM with stressed Oat plants

Dr. Eric Brennan, USDA, provided two great examples of how cover crops can be used to identify soil limiting characteristics in the field. See video below.

Using Cover Crops as Undercover Diagnostic Tools for Farmers and Scientists

Don’t overly dry your corn

See chart below if you are delivering below moisture of commerce.

Figure 3 - Losses per Bushel at Various Moistures of Corn below 15.5%

Chesterton’s Fence

I came across this article the other day at Farnham Street, which publishes an online newsletter where they compile ideas and strategies. In this blog post they published the idea of understanding why things are the way they are before tearing it down and starting over. Is there an underlying reason we have the systems, processes or fences we do before doing anyway with them? If you understand the underlying reason for it the first place, you will have a much better success in replacing the old with the new.

Chesterton’s Fence: A Lesson in Second Order Thinking

Chesterton’s Fence: A Lesson in Second Order Thinking

A core component of making great decisions is understanding the rationale behind previous decisions. If we don’t understand how we got “here,” we run the risk of making things much worse.

One example of Chesterton’s Fence is understanding why we do soil sampling at no more than 25 acre per composite sample. With the limited research I have done, I haven’t been able to determine exactly “why” 25 acres was chosen instead of 20, 30 or 40 acres. Before we suggest new methods of sampling, we need to understand why the old methods were picked, whether it was due to folklore or not.

Corn Ear Diseases and Stalk Rots

The general recommendation is to just GET IT OFF! But if you are evaluating next year’s hybrid decisions, the Crop Protection Network has posted a related article to help with disease ID. Some ear moulds also affect stalk quality. Make note of those fields with ear moulds (Diplodia, Fusarium, Gibberella) that also affect stalk quality.


When should I terminate my cover crop?

Really the question is when to terminate the weeds and volunteers in the cover crop.

No volunteer winter wheat and no weeds, no need to terminate.

Volunteer winter wheat? Terminate in late fall or spring. Prior to tillage.

Lots of Cold tolerant perennials, terminate with enough growing degree days following application for herbicide translocation to the root system.

Estimating Corn Moisture Using Handheld Testers

Shawn Livingston of Precision Planting recently posted a video of comparing a John Deere Moisture tester to a SBI Wood Tester (about $70 at Home Depot or Canadian Tire, example picture below) to a commercial elevator tester. Best part is you leave all the mess in the field if doing field checks and no hand shelling required. You would still need to add a couple of % points of moisture to get to what the commercial elevator tester will read.  It is up to you to decide whether it is just another gadget or a tool in the toolbox.

Picture 6 - SBI Wood Tester, testing a corn cob
Figure 4 - Moisture comparison of SBI Wood Tester, Handheld and Elevator

“To make mistakes is human. To own your mistakes is divine. Nothing elevates a person higher than quickly admitting and taking personal responsibility for the mistakes you make and then fixing them fairly. If you mess up, fess up. It’s astounding how powerful this ownership is."

- Kevin Kelly