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The Cropwalker - Volume 4 Issue 37

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Crop Conditions

Crop conditions Weather lots of rain. Many areas received over 100 mm (4 “) in about 48 hours last week. Hopefully we get a few sunny dry days now. Corn harvest just starting with less than 1% of grain corn harvested. So far DON levels have been less than 1 ppm. Silage harvest pretty well wrapping up. Lots of fields are having premature ripening due to diseases. Hopefully most of these diseases were late enough so there is minimal impact on yield. Soybeans the survey we did last week suggests about 15-20% of the soybeans are off. Some growers are 2/3 or more off. Winter wheat planting has started with probably 15% or more planted. Lambton county has a significant acreage planted. Other fields water is ponding after the big rains. Wheat should be OK. Water will get away. Populations on clay soils may be lower between tile runs.


Top things to do this week

1.     Check all SMV signs on equipment. Replace any there are faded. Clean off the good ones

2.    Check all lighting on equipment including wagons, trailers that will be on the road. Replace faded reflector tape.

3.    Check any wheat that is planted to see if you are satisfied with stands and seed depth.

4.    Check soybean stubble for need of fall weed control.

5.    Get soybeans harvested ASAP. Forecasted weather suggests bean moisture will drop quickly. (Another chart at bottom from Michigan State University)

6.    If unable to harvest soybeans, rank corn fields for lodging risk.

7.     You should be increasing your wheat seeding rate. The number of seeds/acre will depend on your area and soil type, but for the bulk of the province you should be targeting 1.6 to 1.8 million seeds/acre this week.

Figure 1 - Drying vs Shrink in Soybeans (MSU)

Red clover seed shortage

If you want to broadcast red clover seed next spring try and get a commitment to get seed now. The best you can do is put your order in now and hope your dealer sells to “first ordered, first to get seed” An acute shortage of red clover seed exists. Expect significant price increase. We get our red clover from Ontario, western Canada and Oregon. Ontario crop was so-so. Western Canada was dry so short supply. Oregon’s seed will be expensive so dealers may not bring in.

Industry thoughts are growers may opt to not seed as many acres to red clover this year but seed oats after wheat harvest. If a lot of growers do that, oats could be tight. You may want to plant a few acres of oats for yourself to have your own seed to plant after wheat.

Most forage seed will be tight

Western Canada and parts of the US (that did not get rain) traditionally grow a lot of our grass seed. The grass seed crop has been hit hard because of lack of rain. Most of the main grasses are in short supply. Expect to see a lot of grass seed coated to make the supply stretch. Alfalfa seed supply is not bad since a bunch of the alfalfa seed production fields are under irrigation. BUT once there is a shortage of any forage seed, the rest become tight.

1.     Talk to your forage seed supplier and get a commitment if you can.

2.    While I don’t like to keep stands past 3 years counting seeding year you may have to keep a good stand another year

3.    Store as much forage as you can in case you don’t get as many acres seeded next spring as you hoped for.

4.    Make sure all stands are well fertilized now.

5.    If grass seed is short, you may have to seed some acres pure alfalfa.

6.    Take a good look at your seeding equipment. Is there anything you can do to improve seed placement accuracy so that you make every seed count.

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...

2011 Starter P Increases Wheat Yields


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.

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.

Will fertilizer prices be higher or lower in the spring?

The right answer. Nobody knows. There are too many factors involved to say anything for certain.

1.     Dry weather in western Canada means a lot of residual N which will be counted on next spring. Western growers are anticipated to use less N

2.    High prices of P and K have growers thinking about cutting back (worldwide)

3.    Good yields in Ontario means that a lot of nutrients were removed. Good yields and good prices mean Ontario farmers will not cut back a lot. Some will go to applying for one year as opposed to multiple years.

4.    Farmers will buy for tax reasons. Reality is there is less equipment to buy which is generally the first place farmers spend money when cash returns are good.

5.    Mine shut downs and other disruptions related to natural gas supplies have led to supply cut backs.

If I was a betting person, I would bet prices will be higher next spring than this fall.

Crop Removal for High Yield Soybeans

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

Figure 2 - Crop removal of P&K at various Yield Levels

Question - Which group 4 should I be using this fall for burndowns?

Answer – In almost all situations, dicamba (Distinct/Engenia/Xtendimax) is more preferable than 2,4-D Ester. Dicamba provides both root and top growth activity, whereas 2,4-D Ester is mainly top growth. There are a handful of weeds that 2,4-D is better on than dicamba, but with the addition of glyphosate, it likely won’t matter. In some situations, you may consider 2,4-D due to crop restrictions (especially in the spring/in-season).

How to put working capital back into your business – agronomically speaking…

I’m a Mr. Jekyll and Dr. Hyde some days. Today is one of those days. I’m going to put accounting terms and agronomy into one on point and brief article.

Working capital is the oxygen your business needs to survive. It is the amount of monetary resources your farming business has to pay bills. I say resources because it’s a combination of cash, pre-paid bills, and saleable crop, etc. The issue on some farms is they need to increase this number so that they have funds to make longer term (capital) investments in their operation.

There are three ways I can think of to increase this working capital number. The one I will focus on today is related to agronomy. Essentially it comes down to getting more out of each dollar you spend on agronomy related decisions. In some cases, you may be getting nothing out of the dollar that is being spent, and you will need to question why it is being spent in the first place. There are usually a few things that can be squeezed out of most operations to make your agronomy dollars reproduce at higher rates. And it usually involves focusing on fundamentals. As you take your crop off this fall, think about what a few of them might be, and if you’re not sure, it’s likely one of your trusted agronomy partners can point out a few of them.

Question - Should I do a light tillage tickle to get wheat in the ground sooner?

Answer – On wet soils, I don’t think I would, weather looks to be drier in a few days anyways, and by the time it’s almost dry enough to do the tillage, in another day you can likely drill wheat. Now if you are having plugging issues due to the amount of residue, that’s a different problem. If you are going to do something to try and “dry” out the soil, my preference is that you consider using a shallow cultivator pass over a disc.

Question – How should I manage these high fertilizer prices?

Answer – What I like to do with producers that have cashflow on their mind before backing up the spreader truck and hitting the field, is working through what is the most responsive nutrient that they need to address, fix that first and then work on the next one until we have reached their targeted fertilizer budget. This makes my job easier, rather than harder, as I know with confidence that we best spent my client’s fertilizer dollars. To know where to spend those dollars though, you do need a current soil test.

Your soybean residue spreading should look like this… especially if you are not working the ground, and thinking of planting wheat.

Picture 1 - Soybean Residue that is fairly evenly spread with large head.

“If you wish to improve, be content to appear clueless or stupid.”

– Epictetus