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The Cropwalker - Volume 4 Issue 28

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Crop Conditions

Weather certainly a mixed bag. It stopped raining for a bit last week and a lot of wheat came off. Winter wheat Areas of Essex/Kent still have over 50% of the wheat out. This is wheat that was ready 4 weeks ago. Needless to stay quality has gone down. Rest of the province probably 75-80% harvested. Areas in Central Ontario are less than 50% off. Yields have been above average. Some fields are 140-150 and more in areas. Niagara area is getting about 150% of average yield. This is good since the last 2 years have not been friendly to growers in that area. Lots of farms with average or near average yields. It depends on planting dates and if you got rain this spring. Some areas/farms have about 2/3 of average yields. Falling numbers are going down the longer the wheat is in the field. Some fields have significant sprouts, especially where wheat went down. Most of the elevators are helping growers with wheat down-graded to feed. High corn price is helping. Spraying down wheat with glyphosate looks like it really didn’t help this year. But it was worth a try. It might have helped a bit, but then with the delay in harvest there was no difference. Corn we are heading for some good yields IF leaf diseases and fusarium do not interfere. And we don’t know the impact of the haze that is developing because of the forest fires in Ontario and Western Canada. Hopefully it will have minimal impact. This year probably 75% of the fields were showing tassel by July 25th. This bodes well for corn maturing on time with minimal drying charges. Corn is taller than normal and that brings some issues. Increased concern of lodging and making scouting and spraying for western bean cutworm (WBC) more difficult. Soybeans lots of individual fields with problems, some soybean aphids, some diseases especially the mildews and Septoria showing up. Stink bugs are everywhere, much worse than most years. Stink bugs will sting beans in the pods which can lead to down grade of IP beans. They can also “sting” beans that are developing in pods meaning 2 beans to a pod instead of 3. Some fields yellowing because of wet or dry soils where bacteria are not fixing nitrogen. Some say leave it alone. I would rather get 50-60 actual N on now. White mould is alive and well. Can’t stop it now. But you can slow down some of the other diseases. This is a year for a high probability of payback by spraying a fungicide on soybeans. Forages third cut is off to a great start. Looks like this is a year where there will be plenty of forages in Ontario. Not so in western Canada. Some cattle being sold because of lack of feed. Need a way to get forages to them.


Western Bean Cutworm. The numbers last week have exploded. Last year agronomists who scouted were disappointed. They couldn’t find egg masses then had significant damage. This year there are significant acres that already have a fungicide but no insecticide. If you are in a hot area, consider making another trip to add an insecticide if numbers in your area are high. There are a limited number of hybrids with genetic resistance to WBC. Pioneer has 1 AcreMax Leptra hybrid and Dekalb has 2 Trecepta hybrids. Other companies probably have some acres. Last year the WBC resistant hybrids yielded significantly less (15 bus) than non-WBC resistant hybrids. Scouting who are we kidding, it is not working. Very few people can actually see the eggs. This year corn is taller and that means you have to check leaves that are maybe 8” off the ground. WBC can cause fusarium to be worse and the resulting DON. This year things are shaping up to be a bad year for fusarium in corn. Fusarium to me is a bigger issue than WBC. However, if you have not sprayed your corn fungicide yet think about whether you need WBC control. Look at the maps in your area. WBC tends to be worse on lighter soils. It appears that they can burrow deeper in lighter soils and over winter better. Also, they will be on the later tasseling corn, if your corn field is uneven, you may want to check for feeding.

ArcGIS Web Application

Ontario Western Bean Cutworm Map

Spraying for WBC. There is some suggestion that you must spray WBC before they enter the ear. I talked with a fellow CCA Darel Walker in Indiana. He has battled WBC for years. From his experience the WBC larva come out of the ear in the evening and he has been successful spraying after they start to feed on the ear. Typically, moths lay eggs on the upper leaves before tasseling. The eggs hatch and larva start to feed on pollen on the tassel or pollen that is hung up in leaves. Once the silks have browned, they enter the ears. From Darel’s experience, you can still spray and get some control at this stage. However, with most insecticides they work better on small insects, thus the recommendation to spray early.

Summary of Products for Fusarium and Other Disease Control in Corn

The best products to control both Fusarium and some other leaf diseases in corn, in no order, Miravis Neo (meer -a-vis). It is registered at 0.3 to 0.5 L/ac. At 0.3 L/ac you control leaf diseases. At 0.4 L/ac you control leaf diseases and expect a 50% reduction in DON. The 0.5 L/ac gives more DON protection. Proline at the high rate of 0.17 L/ac for DON and stalk rot suppression, the lower rate of 0.128 L/ac only provides leaf disease control. Headline AMP at 0.3 L/ac + Caramba at 0.2 L/ac. from BASF. Caramba gives fusarium control and Headline provides plant health and stay green. Can also apply just Caramba on its own but will give up some leaf disease protection.

How does Fusarium infect corn kernels?

I believe that the fusarium spore lands on the silk. Then once the pollen grain lands on the silk it pushes or caries the fusarium spore to the kernel to start the infection. Once infected, you need a susceptible hybrid and the right weather conditions to allow fusarium to grow.

Figure 1 - Common Ontario Corn Fungicides

How Do I Time a Fungicide in Uneven Corn

There are two times that affect fungicide applications, tasseling or silking. Spraying at silking targets corn ear diseases and tasseling targets foliar leaf diseases. According to Dave Hooker RCAT/University of Guelleh is a six-day window of silk infection and this is the time that we should be spraying our fungicide from full silk to when the silks just begin to brown.

This means when you have a field that is tasseling over 10-14 days try to spray when the majority is mid silk. That may mean that the first 5% has brown silks

A study by Ridgetown researcher Art Schaafsma showed that there is a 60 per cent reduction in DON levels if corn is sprayed for Gibberella ear rot around silking, within a six-day window, before the silks begin to brown.

Minimum residue limits are REAL

If we want to keep our domestic and export markets, this means following the label and best management practices. This spring a letter was sent out to all certified crop advisors to ensure we are following proper staging when it comes to pre-harvest applications, and the list of registered practices. If you are looking for more information, please contact your grain buyers on specific requirements around preharvest applications, and/or visit www.keepitclean.ca/tools

How Much Organic Matter Does Wheat Produce?

Before the advent of fungicides, it was shown that there are about 100 lbs./ac of residue produced/bushel of wheat. (I feel with fungicides there is more residue). Thus, a 100 bu/ac crop produces about 5 ton/ac of residue. If you sell 2.0 ton/ac you still have 3.0 ton/ac of residue. Selling 2.0 ton/ac at a profit of $70.00/ac is a sound decision. You still have a lot of residue and dollars left to maintain organic matter. If you plant a cover crop of oats or have red clover you produce much more organic matter than what you sell.

Broadcasting Oats Cover Crop After Wheat and Using Vertical Tillage

The idea is to mix oats with fertilizer and broadcast it all. For vertical tillage you want something that will mix the oats into the top 1 ½ to 2 inches. You need a tool with rolling baskets that will firm the soil. I believe that other types of harrows will not pack the soil well enough. Use 80 lbs/ac oats. This is about 20 lbs/ac more than if using a no-till drill. However, you will not get as good emergence this way as opposed to drilling. But the vertical tillage will give annual weed control. There are some producers using ultra low rates of Oats in a blend. You just need enough for soil structure and weed suppression purposes. Try a few different rates if you do not have a fine-tuned rate.

Use cereals for forage, must be a better way?

We can do better than suggesting people plant at 100 lbs/ac. If you have a postage scale, do a thousand kernel weight check, then perhaps you will have a seed rate based on seeds/acre than just weight in future years… run a few different rates, see what yields the best. Yes, I know the seed is usually cheap, but time and effort to get better results are not.

Winter Triticale – High Quality Forage Best Practices

Tom Kilcer with Advanced Ag Systems is the guru in the northeastern United States when it comes to establishing and managing winter triticale.

If you are thinking of trying or want a few tips to better manage winter triticale, it may be worth watching the 7-minute video;

Establishing High Yield Winter Triticale 2017

Why winter triticale? Less risk of lodging the common rye, can out yield winter rye by up to 35% when managed. If you are wanting to work with triticale, this is a must watch video.

Drone Use for Field Work in Agriculture

It will come, but I’m not of the opinion many producers are willing to go back in productivity to adopt this technology. Over the past year I have a had several companies or individuals express interest in wanting to either provide drones as service, sell me a drone to use a service, or commercialize a drone design. Very quick I shift the conversation on what my issues are, and what the drone is capable of, in acres per hour. I also focus on going through the list of applications that we need to make throughout the season by crop, especially around spraying or spreading material in crop. That is where these products or services fall apart. I then review the PMRA requirements for pesticide applications made to a crop, which then usually puts the nail in the coffin for these types of conversations. Why? Some products are not labelled to be applied by air, and those that are, do not explicitly have drones listed on the label.

Many of these hardware or service providers have not done the hard work of going through what the management opportunities are for the crop, and where the technology can supplement or displace current tasks to managing that crop.

They have not designed drones for field scale work to replace a helicopter or field sprayer/high clearance spinner. I wish the companies would focus more on what the output requirements are for these machines, rather than adding new and additional features. If they did, producers or agronomists like me would be much less hesitant in their adoption.

To have alfalfa survival, you need to keep feeding it potash

Had an example recently where the producer was concerned that half the field was yielding lower than the other half, partially due to a much thinner stand, but also less plant height. A quick soil test of the field revealed that the lower yielding area of the field had sub 80 ppm levels of potassium, with the stronger areas at 120 ppm.

If you want to grow strong alfalfa crops, you must fix low K levels when in other rotational crops, and then maintain your potassium levels once in alfalfa. And this year big yields because of rain have removed more potassium than normal years.

Big roots for big yields!

A number of researchers and projects continue to support the findings that having bigger root systems leads to high yields through better water use and nutrient access. Rather than asking how I select for bigger rooted plants, a better question in the meantime, is what I am doing that a) restricts root growth, and b) can remove root restrictions.

A must participate program if you want to move the needle on wheat yields – Great Lakes YEN

About YEN

The Yield Enhancement Network (YEN) is a global series of regional networks that help local farmers to better understand their actual and potential yields and learn what is limiting that potential. The Great Lakes YEN is starting off with a focus on winter wheat in Ontario, Canada, and the Great Lakes region of the USA, with the potential to expand scope in future years.

How YEN works

Our approach is to consider the modeled yield potential of the season and compare it to the actual yield achieved. To model this, we look at the development of a given crop, the basic resources (light, energy, and water) available to that crop, and then its success in capturing these resources and converting them into grain yield and quality. Farms are benchmarked, evaluating how an individual field’s performance measures up to its yield potential, and how an individual field compares to the whole range of Great Lakes YEN entrants. Every field is unique and has different yield potential based on a multitude of factors, such as environment (rainfall, sunlight), soil (water holding capacity, nutrient level), and management (inputs such as nutrients – both micro and macro – and sprays used, number of applications, and best timing).

Why Great Lakes YEN has been initiated

The Great Lakes YEN is a way to connect farmers and help them understand more about their crops and the yields they are achieving. The Great Lakes YEN will help us understand more about our growing regions, opportunities for change and betterment from a yield perspective, and potentially understand more about the environmental and economic benefit of current practices.

The goal is to learn more about specific crop and field characteristics that may lead to management opportunities for closing the yield gap between actual and potential yield. This is achieved by benchmarking a field relative to all participating fields, followed by collaborative learning and discussions with others involved in the Great Lakes YEN. This is not just about achieving the highest yield but is rather a comprehensive approach to learning what agronomic practices may lead to advancing wheat management for the highest economic returns in future fields.

To participate, sign up at the link below.


Fall fertilizer on forage crops?

Ideally you will want to spread fall potash on alfalfa and grass fields in mid to late August/early September so that these plants can pick up the fertilizer and store it prior to winter dormancy.

My wheat was flat this year, what did I miss?

1)    Count the number of stems per foot of row left in the field. With an excellent fall for 2020, and minimal winterkill, there were more stems than usual. If you didn’t manage this in the spring, it would have led to increased risk of lodging.

2)    There was less nitrogen loss than normal, but with an excellent looking wheat crop and strong prices, many growers pushed nitrogen rates. If you did this with strong populations and no growth regulator, it was the perfect recipe for flat wheat.

This fall, start by seeding by population based on planting date. Then reassess populations and tillering in the spring. Make management adjustments (early N if required/growth regulators/total N rates) in the spring.

Question - I love Branson Soft Red Wheat, but is there anything else I should look at?

Answer – In speaking with Phil Emmott with Corteva, you should be trying Brevant B654. It offers a slight yield advantage with less risk of lodging.

Diagnostic Days Weed Control

Great presentation!

The Agronomists Ontario Diagnostic Days, Ep 1: Controlling waterhemp & avoiding herbicide injury

"If you do it right 51 percent of the time you will end up a hero."

— Alfred P. Sloan