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The Cropwalker - Volume 3 Issue 9

Always read and follow label directions.

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Crop Conditions

Corn harvest is starting again in Central Ontario. Moisture is now below 20%. Bushel weight is now better than corn harvested last fall. This is what has historically happened. Frost seeding Ryan Benjamins in the Lambton area says that some frost seeding of oats and barley happened in his area last week. Wheat is still under snow in most areas as of March 8. I drove the QEW by Niagara Falls last week and was surprised to see wheat greening.


How Much Is Your Time Worth at Planting?

I have calculated for individual growers and it ranges from about $20 per hour to over $1,000 per hour. You calculate it based on when you finish planting. Start by presuming you finish planting corn on May 10th. Then calculate if you do not finish planting until May 2oth because of avoidable issues. If you had 100 acres not planted until May 20th, you have lost 500 bushels of corn. (One bushel per acre per day) If you have an 8-row planter and can plant one acre an hour per row you could plant that 100 acres in a 12-hour period. So, you could have gained 500 bushels of corn at $4.75 per bushel ($2,375.00) So based on a 12-hour day that is roughly $200 an hour, lost by a planting delay.

Main Planting Delays

Not having equipment ready is the main reason for a delay in planting. All corn planters should be ready now or have a definite appointment/timeline in place so that they will be ready in two weeks. (You need time to get parts or repair items that you now find need replacing). Other delays include: 1) not having and understanding crop plans. 2) Spreading manure--if it is too wet to plant it is too wet to spread manure] 3) Seed mistakes. Either the wrong seed was delivered, or seed is not laid out in a well-organized manner to ensure the right seed gets planted in the right place. 4) Applying too much starter fertilizer. You should work so that starter fertilizer is less than 150 lb./ac and the rest is broadcast. The little bit of money spent on having fertilizer custom spread pays big dividends. 5) Do not do any operation that slows down planting that someone else can do. These include picking up fertilizer, seed and equipment parts. When possible pay to have these delivered or get them ahead of time. 6) Not having parts on hand that usually break, causing you to stop planting to get them.

How do I control Glyphosate Resistant Fleabane on Worked Ground?

Tillage can control very small fleabane, but mainly tillage just moves them around and they become “tillage escapes” There are two main options that I can think of. First is 2,4-D before tillage. I would use this on big fleabane or on land that won’t be planted for a week or so. Then you work the land and use a fleabane control program with two actives. The other option is to use Eragon or Elevore before you work the ground, then use a residual program around planting. If you use 2,4-D Ester, you can always come back with Eragon or Elevore at planting time. If you have light sandy soil, consider planting those acres with an Enlist soybean variety that you can spray with 2,4-D in June. I don’t like spraying dicamba in June. I would rather use dicamba at the high rate early.

Spraying Dicamba on Soybeans under review in the US

The EPA will look at dicamba use in the US this year. At the end of the year they can extend the registration, they can refuse to extend the registration or put some restrictions on the use of dicamba. The one most apt to happen is a renewal of the registration with temperature restrictions. These would be statements on the label making the spraying once temperatures reached a certain high or might reach those highs in the next 24-48 hours. The temperature being discuss is 28 degrees C.

What are we doing to keep Phosphorous (P) Out of The Great Lakes?

There is a push to keep P out of the Great Lakes. This is commendable. Society wants this to happen. In the past there have been a lot of programs put forward to make farming more acceptable to society. Many failed. Ones that succeeded are ones that profit farmers. So, when you hear someone promoting better stewardship of your land figure out how you can do this and make money. In the 70’s there was a program “Save Our Soils” I was criticized for saying what good does it do to “Save Our Soil” and lose the farm. Unfortunately, this happened. I think we can follow practices that society wants and be profitable. The first one is soil testing and working with someone who understands soils tests. The next is cover crops. We believe they reduce erosion, keep nutrients out of water and increase yields of following crops. A cereal rye crop reduces some weeds. I am amazed at the number of acres of bare ground in Ontario. There are opportunities with these acers. If you have livestock and a cash crop neighbour with no cover crop there is an opportunity for you both. Buffer strips should be planted beside any open water. This will reduce soil and nutrients from getting into the water. Manure spreading on frozen ground, really should not be happening unless as an emergency measure. If you have aa neighbour who does this every year maybe there is an opportunity for you to take some of that manure, so winter spreading does not occur.

Xtend Soybean – Pre-Emerge Programs

To minimize the risk of dicamba moving off the field, our recommendation is to use dicamba as part of the pre-emerge or burndown program. Preferably at the high rate. Keep in mind what you are really paying for is the genetics, and you could treat the soybean crop as a regular Roundup-Ready field.

For those that are seed growers and must apply dicamba in-crop to ensure seed purity, I would still recommend making the application as early as possible in the growing season (as per seed contract requirements). Contact us directly if you are in that situation, for program ideas.

For areas with heavy fleabane, I would stick with the Sencor based programs; Boundary/Tavium or Prowl + Sencor + Xtendimax.

Figure 1 - Dicamba Tolerant Burndown/Pre-Emerge Programs

Liberty Link Soybean – Pre-Emerge Programs

If there is one weed group that Liberty is weak on, it is grasses, it can also be weak on perennials. For this reason, I would recommend using a graminicide as part of the pre-emerge program. If you have perennial grasses such as quack grass, the best you can do is add a grass product in-crop to the Liberty. I wouldn’t characterize Liberty as the solution to glyphosate resistant Canada fleabane, ensure you start clean and stay clean if you choose to go this route. Eventually most Liberty Link beans will be replaced with Enlist for this reason. Liberty is quite strong on annual broadleaves.

Figure 2 - Liberty Link Pre-Emerge Programs

Enlist Soybean – Pre-Emerge Programs

2,4-D Choline is strong on annual broadleaves, the challenge with this product is that it has very limited residual activity. Same can be said about glyphosate, or Liberty, which can also be applied in-crop to the soybeans. Corteva does not recommend tank mixing glyphosate with Liberty, as they require very different application rates, water volume and droplet sizes for maximum efficacy. Where would I recommend you spend your pre-emerge dollars? Controlling bluegrass, keeping fleabane in-check and controlling waterhemp would be my picks. Use the in-crop application of 2-4D as a rescue treatment, rather than a must have.

Figure 3 - Enlist Soybeans - Pre-Emerge Programs

Watch your herbicide groups going forward

I’m concerned we are getting too reliant on 2 or 3 herbicide groups to battle our most resistant weeds. These are group 14 - Authority, Authority Supreme, Bifecta, Eragon, Fierce, Integrity, Optill, Reflex, Triactor, Valtera, group 15 Dual (Acuron, Halex, Lumax, Primextra), Frontier, and pyroxasulfone (Authority Supreme, Focus, Fierce, Zidua) and group 4s, dicamba, 2,4-D, plus multiples of wheat herbicides. I would imagine the actives and products listed above make the bulk of the herbicide sales in Ontario. That means they are working. The one and only precaution I want to point out, is that if you are growing the same crop multiple years in a row, or are growing a corn/soybean rotation, look at the herbicide groups and actives you are using, and ensure that some herbicide rotation is occurring to limit the risk of herbicide resistance due to selection pressure.

In my herbicide programs, I try to use different pre-emerge herbicide groups in corn, vs. those the following year in soybeans, to ensure product stewardship. Are there situations this doesn’t happen, yes, sometimes there is a weed you must chase.

Soil test P follow-up from last week

Last week we had published the table below, I did find an error in the Olsen test, as it was listed the same for both subsoils. I’ve updated the chart below. The point I wanted to make was 1) Based upon Iowa research you can have two soil tests with the same results but with different P subsoils and have two different P response curves. Is this relevant to Ontario, with our much thinner topsoil? Yes, I think it is. I see growers with extremely high yielding areas of the field with low p levels, but quite a bit of topsoil depth, so the total amount of P maybe not limiting, due to the size of the bank, it’s just spread out over a wider area. Could those areas yield more? Possibly, it partly depends on what the subsoil P test is as well. I also see areas of fields with low yields but very high P tests. In some situations, this is due wet soil condition, which leads to a drowned-out crop, or shallow roots. In others it is due to thin soils, poor moisture holding capacity and very low yields due to limited root growth. Even at higher tests in those areas, I would still expect that P may be limiting in years with adequate rainfall, just simply because it is stratified in a 4” band at the soil surface, and you are trying to farm the B or C soil horizon, which likely have almost zero P in the subsoil. 2) The second point is that in casual conversation, a former corn agronomist commented that when we increase plant population into the upper 30’s, we have smaller root systems due to inter-plant competition, which also end up being more responsive to fertility fields or commercial fertilizer, essentially shifting the entire fertilizer response curve to the right and up.

What should you do with this information? If you have a high yield “test” field, try sampling the subsoil, at 0-6”, 6-12, and 12-24” depths, to see what kind of results you get in that field.

FIgure 4 - Soil Test Phos Values by Subsoil Phos

Soil Test Research Wish List

Last week we had a few comments on soil testing, in the last week I have put together a wish list of soil sampling and testing research.

1)    Most fertility research does not consider topsoil depth or nutrient stratification.

2)    There are two camps in the soil fertility world now. Those that do nutrient recommendations strictly off ppm soil tests. And those that provide ppm plus yield to come up with a rec. I can’t comment at this time who is right. Perhaps other factors limit yield more than just soil fertility. And it’s a three-sided triangle of what the limiting factor is. Or you use a map that takes into consideration yield limiting factors like water, to determine if you could push that area harder.

3)    New extractants like Mehlich III or the Haney test may eventually replace sodium bicarb, because the lab can do it cheaper and/or faster and/or test for multiple nutrients at once.

4)    Some of the research does not match real world applications. Most soybean research was done using a 2x2 band, when most producers, at least in my area, would be doing dry starter in-furrow or broadcast. When research was completed for in-furrow starter, it appears to have been done on worked soils with dry fertilizer to look at seed burn. Most of this also didn’t consider lower testing soils, or no-till scenarios.

5)    Do I use the Ontario data, because it is local, and replicated? Definitely. We also need to look at the limitations of what we must work with. It is a great base layer to start with to show that we need 20 ppm P and 120 K on loam soils to optimize yield. But what about my sands and clays that I work with? What happens on clay soils when they get dry and tie up almost all the available potassium, especially at lower tests?

6)    Current research is being conducted to try and determine sulphur response in winter wheat. Statistical models suggest discounting the data on the knolls simply because it doesn’t represent enough of the field, even though the results suggest a very significant yield increase. These are the first areas of the field to get a response and provide most of the value in applying sulphur to a responsive crop like winter wheat or alfalfa. A producer in Kent county has started side-dressing his soybeans on the knolls with sulphur, because he gets a significant response in those areas.

7)    10-year-old data isn’t that old when it comes to soil sciences and the fertilizer materials we must work with, but our methods and capabilities of changed significantly in the last 10. How many producers have upgraded to air seeders or strip-till units in the last 10? Tests like Mehlich III have been around since 1984. Let’s keep pushing the envelope.

How do we solve some of the challenges listed above? There are a few you could tackle on your own farm through on farm experimentation. Others could be done through a grant process at the local soil and crop improvement association, to fund the local research. Others may require filling out the Grain Farmers of Ontario surveys that come out once a year or so when they request research ideas to fund. Sitting on our hands and waiting for “someone” to address the issue isn’t an option.

Muck vs. Peat Soils

Main difference is that Peat soils have a higher rate of organic matter, typically over 50%. Peat may still have materials at various stages of decomposition, resulting in colours from fibrous brown to well decomposed black (you can make out the underlying vegetation making up the soil). Muck soils typically have lower percentages of organic matter (15 to 50% for classification purposes), and the organic matter in muck soils tends to be more fully decomposed than those in a peat soil. Muck soils are typically more productive than a peat soil, especially after tile drainage has been installed. Notes from British Columbia Department of Agriculture - 1926

"Policy ≠ Science" – Adele Hite