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The Cropwalker - Volume 4 Issue 41

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Crop Conditions

Weather continues mostly wet with a few hours of weather to allow bean harvest. Does not look promising for weather conducive to wheat planting in the next week. Most growers have switch to corn and will get the beans when they can. Winter wheat a lot of acres on lighter ground looks good. Heavier ground is showing wet feet syndromes. Nothing can be done. We may have 725,000 acres in but have not seen any government reports. Corn harvest is about 15% complete with some growers well over 50% done. This compares to 25-30% same date last year. DON levels continue low but sprouted corn now an issue (see below) Soybean harvest across Ontario 70-75% done. This compares to being 95% done this time last year. Amazing that soybean yields are still holding. More moldy beans showing up. Everyone who can is doing everything possible to get beans off. In some areas growers who are done are helping their neighbours even though it means switching combine from corn back to beans. One CCA is calling it “coordinating combines”


Things to do this week

1)    Check all harvested corn fields for weeds that should be sprayed now. Dandelion control is much easier in the fall than the spring. I am also seeing some sizeable fleabane in some of these fields.

2)    Decide on what tillage for corn stalks, this fall or next spring.

3)    Remind yourself that getting a corn hybrid with good tolerance to fusarium/Gibberella is better than a hybrid with tolerance to tar spot.

4)    Check your neighbour to see how they are doing. Do they need a hand to get their soybeans off?

5)    If you haven’t put much thought into 2022 fertilizer needs, best time was in the past, next best time is today. Current crop prices help to soften some of the increases. See article below.

6)    If WINTER WHEAT is your passion, and you want to move the needle on your #profitgrass production. Consider signing up for the Great Lakes YEN project. The cost is $250, you must agree to sharing your data, along with taking in-season measurements. At the end of the 2022 season you will get a nice report on how your wheat management stakes up against up to 100 other participants on 50+ metrics in the Great Lakes region. Sign up here; https://greatlakesyen.com/

Picture 1 - Weeds in Corn Canopy

Sprouted corn Spoke with one grain trader who said it generally looks worse than it is. Sprouted kernels count as damage and you are allowed 5 percent before it becomes grade 3. Discounts at the elevator for grade 3 are usually pretty small. (Maybe a dime) I think Casco/Ingredion is a couple of pennies for 5-7 percent damage. Some areas have bird damage as well.

DON results from 2021 corn survey

The survey shows slightly less DON compared to 2020. However last fall was dry and very little increase I DON after the survey. This year’s wet weather may increase the amount of DON in corn in the field

Read the full report here https://fieldcropnews.com/2021/10/2021-ontario-grain-corn-ear-mould-and-deoxynivalenol-don-mycotoxin-survey/

Which add in herbicide is best for fall burndown?

Most recommendations will start with the low rate of glyphosate (0.67 L/ac of 540 concentration – need to take out the volunteer wheat), then increase if there are perennial weeds such as dandelions or perennial sow thistle. In some situations, it is advantageous to add a group 4 herbicide like 2,4-D Ester or Dicamba. But which one is better? 2,4-D ester offers the widest range of recropping options but sees reduced efficacy as the season gets later and later. Fall applied dicamba controls a wider range of weeds more consistently and will have more residual activity on winter annuals. In most situations, dicamba will do a better job.

Q I had quite a bit of fleabane pressure in my corn. This farm had 5-7% less corn than other fleabane free farms. It will go to soybeans next year. Should I add anything to my Roundup that I will spray on these corn stalks?

Ans talked with BASF and they felt no reason to. They are very pleased with the Eragon plus Sencor tank mix controlling fleabane in soybeans next year. They also mentioned if you use an Enlist variety you have double protection should you need to touch up some areas with fleabane escapes.

Preparing for next year

1)    Working with Roundup shortage Lots of talk in the US about worldwide Roundup shortage. That means higher prices and not everyone will be able to get what they want. Could mean dealers will control their supply by selling each customer a % of their last two years orders. This will lessen chances of hoarding and make for even distribution of scarce supply. One strategy is to rely less on Roundup and rely more on other herbicides. We grew corn and soybeans before Roundup Ready and can do it again. Means that you will need to put down a high rate of pre emerge herbicide and move to other post emergent herbicides like Liberty

2)    Growing corn with high fertilizer prices. Just read a US report that looked at fertilizer prices that will be 150-230% more than in 2021. In these budgets the profit from corn in 2022 was about 10-15 % greater than the profit from growing corn in 2021. Nitrogen will be a big factor. I am still trying to get my head around “I used the N rate for 200 bu/ac and I got 240 bu/ac” Can we safely cut back N rates for 2022? For sure alfalfa stands are worth at least 100 lbs of N or $100 per acre of nitrogen plus rotational benefit.

3)    Putting high fertilizer prices in perspective I have just read a report from the US looking at crop budgets with higher input prices especially fertilizer prices. They project that with current projected high fertilizer prices the profit margin for growing corn in 2022 is about 6-8% higher in 2022 that in 2021.

4)    What N rate on corn for 2022 I have used various N prices and corn market prices and based on $6.00 corn and $1.00 per pound of N I calculate that you would use about 6% less N in 2022 than you did in 2021.

Notes on N rate for corn

Year to Year Variability in Available Soil N and Agronomically Optimal N Rate (AONR)

Although we report a single AONR for a region, specific AONR values often vary from field to field and from ear to year for a single field. For example, the 10-year average AONR for corn grown in rotation with soybean at our research site near West Lafayette was 197 lbs N / ac, but the AONR for individual years (2006 - 2015) ranged from 130 to 262 lbs N / ac. The year-to-year variation in optimum N rate is not surprising given the annual variability in soil N supply, fertilizer N loss, and weather. Weather influences both soil N supply and fertilizer N efficiency. Crop health, N uptake, and N use efficiency are also influenced by soil characteristics and weather variability. Soil or fertilizer N lost to leaching, denitrification, or volatilization represents N that is no longer available to the plant (Nielsen, 2006). The most efficient N application method and timing for minimizing N loss is to inject N prior to the beginning of rapid crop N uptake at roughly growth stage V6 (six leaves with visible leaf collars, approximately 18 inches tall). Dr Bob Neilson Purdue University Crop Newsletter October 2021

Some reading on herbicide shortages for 2022 from Indiana

Supply chain disruptions and material shortages are fueling speculation about a herbicide shortage for the 2022 agriculture growing season. Bill Johnson, Purdue professor of weed science and Purdue Extension weed specialist, is encouraging producers to plan to minimize the impact on corn and soybean production in the Midwest.

Glyphosate (Roundup) and glufosinate (Liberty) are the two main active ingredients that potentially may be in short supply for the next growing season.

Another Purdue source said “Flooding, COVID-19 outbreaks and congested ports disrupted production and exports in China for months, resulting in chemical manufactures rationing supply.”

Johnson warns, “Plan your upcoming weed control strategies to accommodate for limited availability because of supply or price of these two active ingredients. Even if there isn’t a widespread shortage, farmers will likely encounter higher chemical prices resulting in major challenges for corn and soybean production.”

In a recent article, Marcelo Zimmer, Purdue weed science specialist; Bryan Young, Purdue professor of weed science; and Johnson outlined weed control considerations based on types of tillage systems. Read the full article here.

Q I am a dairy farmer and concerned about high N costs next year for my corn. What can I do?

Ans As a dairy farmer you have lots of options, which include wise use of manure. But a suggestion to consider is terminating more good alfalfa acres If you plough down alfalfa you get a minimum of 100 lbs/ac actual N at a value of $1.00 a pound or $100 an acre. In general, our forage fields are left down to long. Shortening the alfalfa rotation also helps to alleviate some of the compaction that is occurring this wet fall.

Q I have a new seeding of alfalfa and grass. Some areas had so much weed pressure that some alfalfa did not catch. What can I do next spring?

Ans, we have been here before. If it is less than 10-15% of the field I would just no till a ryegrass next spring early. If it is more than 25% I would no till oats along with the ryegrass. It is amazing what you will see in areas where there is alfalfa the rye grass seed will not grow where the alfalfa has died out it will grow.

Question – I am thinking of upgrading planters, but I’m a smaller operator, what should I be looking for?

Answer – You don’t necessarily have to have the newest and greatest unit on the market. It really comes down to how the unit is setup and if the machine is in good repair. I’ve seen mid 1990s to early 2000s White planters with air-plates do just as good a job as newer John Deere units. The operator of the White units knew how to properly setup the planter, understood the importance of dry fertilizer to get the plants started and did an excellent job of seed bed prep. It’s less about the exact machine one is running, and more about the operator and understanding what it takes to make it sing. There are three points 1) I would like to see dry fertilizer on the planter, 2) plate style units tend to have more issues with seed size than plate-less planters. Have your dealer run a stand test to get the meter setup properly. 3) Regardless of what you buy, do a thorough job of tearing the unit apart and replacing anything that is worn.

Variable Rate and Crop Physiology

I keep seeing it over and over. If you want to play with variable rate seed, you must understand the crop physiology of the crop species and the specific hybrid/variety you are working with. Yes, there are generalities you can use by crop species, to fine tune the population based on management zone, understanding a specific hybrid/variety performs is critical. Why? You are now managing for extremes as you push or pull back on populations, not averages. You need to understand what the breaking point is in the genetics.

Tillering in Corn

In my variable rate corn seed scripts, I try to have at least one population test block, so that I can assess a hybrids ability to adjust ear size based on population by position within the field. One observation I have noticed is the ability for certain corn hybrids to tiller (with viable cobs) more than others when populations are pulled back. What am I going to do with this data? I hope to be able to use it to see if some hybrids more ability to maintain yields at lower populations than others. What’s a lower population? In most cases we are dropping 28,000 seeds/acre. 40-50% of the plants in this plot below had a tiller.

Picture 2 - Tillering in corn allowed this plant to put out 4 cobs.

Importance of Planter Depth

During some routine field checks last week I came across a situation where the emergence appeared to be variable due to planting depth. Based on ear size and stalk diameter, the smaller sized stalk/ear appeared to be shallower, but due to available moisture at the time of planting, emerged later.

Picture 3 - High brace roots provides some clues on planting depth
Picture 4 - Some size difference between stalks
Picture 5 - Yep, definitely a difference in stalk diameter
Picture 6 - Oh boy, and a difference in cob size.

When Looking at Fertilizer, Manage for Margin

Fertilizer prices seem high, and they are. And I see lots of people running fertilizer price to soybean or corn price ratios saying how out of whack they are. But when it comes to costs, there is more to growing soybeans or corn than fertilizer. A large portion are fixed expenses. So, if you must have today’s fertilizer price or last year’s new crop soybean price at this time, which would you pick? The answer should be the 2022 new crop soybean price, with today’s fertilizer prices, as you would still have more money in your pocket.

Please note this are approximate fertilizer prices, so obviously what you may be buying it for more or less.

Figure 1 - New Crop Soybean Prices vs. Approximate Spring Fertilizer Prices

Nitrogen on Corn using the Ontario N Calculator

Looking at N Rates using the Ontario corn N calculator was mentioned earlier. You can breakout just the Nitrogen price to corn price ratio component to see how much it would adjust the result. I put that into a table, you can see it below.

Figure 2 - Corn/Nitrogen Rate Adjustment Based on Nitogen/Corn Ratio

I also thought it would be beneficial to see how much soil type, location and timing of application would impact the final N recommendation. If you are in Western Ontario, you could cut your N rate by 10-20% just by side-dressing, instead of applying it all up front.

Figure 3 - Corn N Rate Adjustment Based on Soil Type/Timing

Finally, you should also consider the impact previous crop has on the total N recommendation.

Figure 4 - Corn N Rate Adjustment based on Previous Crop

“The Chev got stuck and the Ford got stuck

Got the Chev unstuck when the Dodge showed up

But the Dodge got stuck in the tractor rut

Which eventually pulled out the Ford."

– Corb Lund