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The Cropwalker - Volume 4 Issue 35

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Crop Conditions

Weather – a series of hailstorms went through parts of Ontario. A band from Goderich to Mildmay was hit the worst. Some fields of corn have next to no leaves left. Corn that was 50% milk line or mature will still make decent yields but will be in a crop insurance position. Expect lower bushel weight. Soybeans and edibles were hit harder. Could be 50% or more yield loss in many fields. Expect continued pods to drop on any fields that were hailed. Get these fields off as soon as possible. See how wet your elevator will take them. Maybe 20%.  Corn now is 50-75% milk line. We did a provincial yield estimate and came up with a yield estimate of    181.4 bu/ac. The range varied from  168.6 to 198.2 bu/ac. Greg Stewart of Maizex estimates yield to be 191.5 for corn. Dale Cowan of Agris Co op also did a survey and his estimate is 194 for corn.  For 2020 Agricorp final yield was 177 and OMAFRA 163.9 Corn. Corn silage is in full swing. Lots of fields should be harvested but there is a delay. Corn will drop quickly with current weather. Soybeans yield estimates ranged from 44  to 58.2 bu/ac, our poll averaged 49.9 bu/ac. Greg Stewart 51.7, Dale Cowan 53. Last year Agricorp listed average soybean yield as 52 bu/ac and OMFRA had 50.7 bu/ac.


Things to do this week

1.    Think safety. Take time to do all tasks. No rushing. A couple of minor trips already have slowed up a couple of farmers.

2.   Check fire extinguishers in all tractors, trucks, combines

3.    Upgrade first aid kits. You need something to tape up a cut. I have used duct tape; electrical tape works great as well.

4.   Check on your neighbours to be sure they are ok.

5.    Get manure samples

6.   Figure out lbs/ac of wheat seed you need. This year at least some lots have more seeds per pound than last years.

7.    Finalize wheat starter plans

Silo gas is not something to fool with. I have two or three friends/acquaintances that have been overcome. Each time you get a whiff it lowers your tolerance for the next time. Dry weather this month has increased the amount of silo gas that will be in silage.

Stage of Growth for Harvesting a Cereal for Forage

According to Dr. J. Cherney at Cornell, stage of growth has a bigger effect on forage quality than the species of grain chosen. For quality cereal forage, flag leaf rolled is a bit early, by waiting for 4-5 additional days to early swollen boot (head below the last leaf), you can have the same feed quality and gain a 35% yield increase. If the head has started to poke through, you have waited too long if trying to produce a 20% protein forage. Better to be on the early side than too late. Thus, you must harvest at rolled flag leaf to early swollen boot to have acceptable feed quality.

Preplant wheat herbicides thoughts

1.    Eragon can be used at up to 59 ml/ac with Merge. Lowest label rate is 29 ml/ac plus merge. However, if you use a rate in between you will give up residual control. But if weed pressure is not real high you MIGHT be able to work with rates between 29 and 59 ml/ac.

2.   If you use 2,4-D before planting wheat leave 2 weeks between spraying and planting. The thought is you should use 2,4-D ester since it breaks down quicker than amine formulations.

3.    Do not use dicamba before planting wheat.

4.   There are a number of post emergent wheat herbicides that you can use. We will cover in a later issue.

Winter wheat planting reminders

1.    The attached map shows optimum planting days for various areas. Go to GoCereals.ca and click on optimum planting dates

2.   This week you should be dropping about 1.4 M seeds per acre. You can adjust above or below this number based on soil type/experience.

3.    Farmer science to seeding rates. Set what you think is the right setting and then try to figure out how many pounds you are putting on in a small area and readjust setting. Then keep track of acres and pounds as you seed. It ain’t an exact science yet. If you have a scale on the drill, it makes it simpler.

Figure 1 - Optimal Wheat Planting Date by Area (OMAFRA - see link below)
Optimum Planting Dates for Winter Wheat in Ontario

Optimum Planting Dates for Winter Wheat in Ontario

2016 was another interesting year for cover crops.

Tillage before winter wheat

Spoke with one reader who worked the ground after soybean harvest and before planting wheat. He said it was the best wheat he ever had. However, he did use a plant growth regulator and split applied nitrogen. He said he was tired of having the skips and bunches of wheat plants. And did not like the plants that were heaved out in the spring because of residue. Causing shallow planting. He could have bought an expensive new drill that would over come some of this or work the ground before planting. This year he plans on working the ground again before planting wheat.

Figure 2 - Number of Wheat Seeds per Foot at Different Rates

Winter Wheat Fertility – A reminder from OMAFRA’s publication 811 on winter wheat phosphorus management. If you have a soil testing above 20 ppm, not as critical to have seed placed phosphorus, broadcast applied at some point in the crop rotation to replace crop removal is a good idea. That being said, it would pay for a pass with the spreader to apply phosphorous in the fall if you have the time. If you are planting on the late side, I still prefer to see seed placed phosphorus, as phosphorus availability starts to drop as the temperature drops.

Figure 3 - Expected Wheat Yield Increase with Phosphorus Use (OMAFRA)

One of my Equipment Pet Peeves

My biggest pet peeve when it comes to equipment is growers that spread soybean residue unevenly. Especially since it is something that is within their control, or the combine operator’s control. Uneven soybean residue spread leads to many other issues in the rest of the crop rotation. Have an uneven wheat stand in the spring? Look at how well the residue was spread the previous fall. It really is the case of an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure.

Early corn toxin results

From: Chris Roelands <croelands@honeylandag.com>

Sent: September 9, 2021 7:23 AM

Just wanted to share what we have seen so far on DON as there have been some concerns that this year had the potential for high levels again.

We have been randomly testing a few samples from corn silage chipper days as they have been coming in (within about an hour from our lab) in Ailsa Craig to get an idea of where DON levels are relative to previous years.

The average so far (25 samples) is 0.62 ppm with results ranging from 4.2 - 0.01ppm. This is much cleaner than the 2018 "toxin apocalypse" where we averaged approximately 4 ppm on the first samples. So, we may see some hot spots but generally things are looking good so far.

How to Control Red Clover

Red clover continues to build root mass from the end of September until the end of October. This is based on research from Dr. Steve Bowley, University of Guelph. The compromise is spraying in September so you can use conservation tillage vs. spray later to get more growth but destroy soil structure because you work the field when it is wetter and later. I prefer to spray when the soil is dry enough to allow conservation tillage. The table summarizes research from University of Guelph by Dr.’s Sikkema, Swanton and Tardiff on controlling red clover for plough down.

Figure 4 - Red Clover Control (Spring Assessment)

Notes from my crop diary from September 12 2011

Top Dieback in Corn – Top dieback has been showing up across the province in the past couple weeks. Top dieback can be caused by Anthracnose stalk rot, European corn borer, and natural senescence. In the majority of cases this is caused by the plant trying to fill the ear when root uptake cannot keep up. The plant starts taking nutrients from the lower leaves and switches to the top. Yield impact will depend on how early the cannibalizing occurs and severity. Fields with more top dieback may also be more prone to lodging. Let us know if you find hybrid or fungicide differences.

Don’t delay harvesting hailed out soybean fields

The pods and stalks are already brittle, as they continue to dry down you run the risk of losing more seeds. Best to harvest and dry them if you have to (and can), then waiting for moisture of commerce.

Q – I have Sowthistle almost in flower, should I spray off my cover crop? It’s only 4” tall.

A – No, if you are not planning to work the field this fall, let the cover crop continue to grow. I would spray it off mid-October. You will still get a good kill at that time. The alternative would be to spray now with a group 4 herbicide like Distinct or Lontrel (depending on cropping restrictions, or a group 2 herbicide like Express SG (will need the high rate with no glyphosate).

Q – How many plants do I need to optimize wheat yields?

A – Based on Phil Needham’s wheat management books, you should be looking at 450-600 heads per square yard. The exact number likely depends on soil type and the wheat genetics you are working with. To get say 550 heads per square yard, means you need roughly 220 plants per square yard or 24 plants per square foot (15 plants per foot of 7.5” row). This means 1.1 million viable plants per acre in the spring. That means that when you seed in early September, you have 90% germination and 2.5 heads per viable plant and no winterkill. The later you go, the worse the germination, the winter survival, and the less viable tillers per plant. Therefore, you have to increase seeding rates to maximize wheat yields as you get later into fall.

Q – How deep should I plant my wheat?

A – From my experience walking wheat fields in the fall. I like to see a minimum of 1”. I prefer to see 1 to 1.5”. I think 2” is likely too much unless you have had major issues with heaving in the past.

"Don't judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant."

– Robert Louis Stevenson