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The Cropwalker - Volume 4 Issue 42

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Crop Conditions

Weather has been wet all over Ontario. Not much field activity. Corn harvest our Twitter poll indicates that about 22% of Ontario’s corn is harvested as of October 25th. Not much came off last week. Nothing has changed. Stalk strength and ear moulds are not any better. There will be rutting to get this corn off. We have done it before and put the ground back together after harvest. If you have bad ruts in some areas the best alternative is mould board plough those rutted areas. Do not have to mould board plough the whole field. Soil conditions are too wet to use any primary tillage tool except a mould board plough. Alternative is conservation tillage next spring. Soybeans our Twitter poll indicates that 82% of Ontario’s soybeans are off. Rest will be harvested as soon as possible. Heard of one grower with soybeans coming off at 24%. Operator put into a bin and dried using a Top Dry. These were IP soybeans. They met grade with no discounts. Will give you more details later. Winter wheat will be fewer acres. Some areas have a lot of poor looking wheat, which may not be worth keeping next spring. Crop Insurance will insure winter wheat planted up to November 7 south of highway 8 and west of highway 400. Go to Agricorp website to get more details. (See map) This suggests that straw will be short again next year. If planting, consider planting at 1.5-2” This will reduce chances of kill by heaving. Wheat just must germinate to vernalize and produce a crop next year. It does not have to emerge.

Figure 1 - Agricorp Wheat Planting Areas


Things to do this week

1.     Assess your winter wheat as to how much you believe will be OK next spring. I know it is hard but might as well start thinking about it now. A few are already talking about what to do with tile run wheat.

2.     If you are going to plant spring cereals order seed now. I expect spring wheat will sell out before the end of December.

3.     Put in your order for early season soybean varieties (where you need to plant wheat).

4.     Tell everyone where towing supplies are. Review proper towing procedures. I have put a link below to one of the better YouTube selections on this topic.

5.     Review procedures to reduce compaction at corn harvest.

Tips to Avoid Compaction on Wet Soils (Repeating again)

  1. Do not use grain bin extensions or fill the combine as full.
  2. Use wide tires with lower inflation pressures.
  3. Keep trucks out of the field. Consider unloading at the ends of the field, not on the go.
  4. Grain cart should track the same rows as the combine.
  5. Do not turn around in the middle of the field.
  6. Do not fill the grain cart, unload more often.
  7. Establish a grain cart path and stay on it.
  8. Do not till wet soils, as they are easily compacted.
  9. Use cover crops to help build or maintain soil structure.

If the soil was wet enough to form ruts during harvest, it is too wet to do tillage. Driving on or tilling wet soil causes compaction. While the wheel traffic compaction (loss of pore space) is easy to see as the lost space reappears as ruts, the full-width compaction resulting from tillage is not as visible as the entire surface is compacted below the tillage depth. If the combines and grain carts are not leaving a rut, do not worry about compaction from the heavy equipment. Compaction is the loss of pore space between soil particles and occurs when that space is squeezed out of the soil and reappears somewhere else, such as in the form of a rut. If a rut was not formed, there was enough soil structure present to support the weight without causing additional compaction. A great example is when you play with playdough, after the air is out of the dough, it will form a shape.

(Notes on compaction from Paul Jasa Extension Engineer University Nebraska Lincoln)

Thoughts on what to do with wheat ground that did not get planted or planted and will need a different crop next spring

1.     The first obvious is spring wheat, which must be planted early. Seed of best varieties will be short. If going this route order seed now. You could under seed to red clover. Single cut red clover would be the first choice if you can get single cut seed. If you can only get double cut be prepared to spray with low rate Eragon to knock it back so that it does not interfere with harvest.

2.     If replanting to soybeans DO NOT PLANT, THE SAME VARIETY UNLESS IT IS SEED SOYBEANS. Each variety is attacked by various root diseases. If you plant the same variety whatever disease you had this year will be worse next year.

3.     Any other spring cereal. Oats planted early is an option for limited acres and resell the seed for cover crop. Oat straw should be a good seller.

We trade newsletters with Darel Walker in Indiana. Here are crop conditions in his area of Indiana.

Crop Conditions

We are still stuck under a persistent trough that is giving us unwanted rainfall and delaying harvest. I did a survey from LaPorte to Cedar Lake this week and estimated soybean harvest at 51% complete. I am calling corn harvest 50-60% completed. Heavy rains have made harvest losses very evident. Four beans per square foot equals1 BPA field loss as does two kernels of corn per square foot. Dr. Emerson Nafziger from the University of Illinois estimated corn loss at 5-10 BPA and soybean loss at 3-5 BPA in central Illinois. I cannot recall another year when we had so much visual soybean loss, but moisture was down to 9-10% when many of these beans were cut. Soybeans have made a nice fall cover crop! The good news is that a corn kernel that grows now will not be volunteer corn next year.

Yields are quite good. Soybeans are ranging from 55 to 75 with most in the 60-70 range. Corn is running 180 to 250 BPA, with most fields in the 210-230 range. Corn test weight is running 56-61#. Grain quality is good. The highest yielding field average I have seen so far was about 250 BPA. We had a large plot near Hebron that averaged about 235. Harvested another plot Wednesday near Valparaiso from gently rolling ground that averaged about 215 BPA. Stalk quality is very poor in areas with sandy ground. Stalk quality is better in higher CEC soils. Field losses are higher than normal because of lodged corn. It is too wet to do much fall tillage. The region had 3-5” rain last weekend which halted harvest. A few growers are spraying fall burndowns.

Phantom Yield Loss in Corn

After corn reaches physiological maturity, the grain will continue to respire, resulting in the loss of accumulated starch. So, both a loss of moisture and dry matter is occurring during dry down. See example study posted on Twitter below.

And another example.

Cheap Corn Moisture Tester

Now this is not calibrated for testing corn, but in learning about it from Precision Planting’s Shawn Livingston and DLF Pickseed’s Sylvia Mengens, it is a great tool to approximate what corn moisture is in the field without having to hand shell and carry a handheld corn tester.

The answer is to use a wood moisture tester, probing the two probes directly into the kernels while they are on the cob. Personal experience suggests the results are comparable to using a Dickey John style hand tester. A few others on Twitter commented that they have found this type of tool quite handy for doing quick checks in the field on corn moisture.

Question - How many growing degree days do I need to translocate glyphosate into alfalfa for a fall burndown?

Answer – Based on some work completed by Mike Cowbrough, 100-150 GDD seems about the minimum required, with a base temperature of 5 C. So that would mean you need 100-150 GDD over 5 degrees C. If we average 10 degrees, you will need 20-25 days at that temperature to get a good kill. Less than that not 100% kill but still some kill.

If you are not going to apply phosphate or potash, at least fix your low pH.

Winter Wheat Yield Potential, N Rates and Price – The three-sided question

Q - Jonathan, I am not sure I want to keep my winter wheat given the price of nitrogen. I am looking for spring wheat seed at this point. What is the breakeven on current wheat price, yield on tile run wheat, and nitrogen relative to last year?

A – See chart below. And if you do not want to keep it, maybe you can sell it as is to someone who has forward contracted wheat and did not get any planted.

Figure 2 - Expected 2022 Wheat vs 2021 Wheat

10 Myths of Precision Ag

Last Thursday I gave a presentation on precision ag to the Ontario Agricultural College Soil and Crop Club. I thought it would be great for readers to see the slides from the presentation as well.

  1. There are no sources of error in precision agriculture
Figure 3 - The number of maps just for 1 prescription

•       There is the map of the field,

the map of the recommendation,

the map the rate controller reads,

the map of what gets applied to the field. Each step along the process implies there will be some amount of error.

2.     Marketing graphics represent capability

Figure 4 - Combine Yield Maps (Unrealistic)

Showing combines or other equipment that only have one sensor recording data the width of the machine, with curved lines behind them is incredibly misleading. The data will be generated the width of the machine recording the information when only one sensor is in use.

3.     I do not need to use current soil fertility techniques

Figure 5 - Modern Spreading Equipment Needs Modern Soil Test Methods

I’ve yet to find someone who can insist why we need to sample with one sample per twenty-five acres. Why are we continuing to use 1950’s soil sample techniques in 2010/2020 equipment?

4.     Genetics * Environment does not exist

Figure 6 - Crop Phenotype Responds to Landscape Position

Elevation is required to build a topography model, but it does not equal topography. Otherwise, we would not have any water in lakes at 1000’ above sea level.

1.     Increasing sampling intensity gives me more data

The three pictures of soybeans are all the same variety, but at different landscape positions. Note the difference in genetic expression.

5.     Elevation equals topography

Figure 7 - Nutrient Movement Within The Field Landscape Occurs due to Topography

Elevation is required to build a topography model, but it does not equal topography. Otherwise, we would not have any water in lakes at 1000’ above sea level.

6.     Increasing sampling intensity gives me more data

Figure 8 - Sampling Intensity Should Reflect Field Variability

More data is only good if it represents the ability to predict response to management

7.     Yield should drive fertility rates

Figure 9 - Yield Potential does not represent Crop Nutrient Response

Yield history shows potential in each area; it does not predict crop response to fertilizer. In the slide above, the grower seeded cover crop Oats after winter wheat. Showing with the difference in colour and plant height due to nutrient mineralization from the soil. Similar yield potential.

8.     My equipment is not noisy

Figure 10 - Flat Rate Soybean Seeding Applied "Rate"

All equipment applying inputs to a field has a certain amount of “noise,” If you are going to vary inputs by zone, it should vary by amounts greater than what the machine can hold for a target rate. In this case, you would want to step the soybean seeding rate by at least 10,000 seeds/acre.

9.     Seed mortality is consistent across the field

Figure 11 - Soybean Population by Zone (Flat Rate)

Seed mortality is not consistent across most fields due to differences in soil texture and water availability. When taking a population in a field, where do you do it?

10.     I do not need to understand nutrient cycling to build models

Figure 12 - Nitrogen Management on a Field Level (IPNI Graphic)

If you cannot spatially model what we already know about nutrient cycling, i.e., nitrogen for instance, how can you hope to effectively manage nutrient applications for crop response?

“Well I know you got your own deadlines

But cussin' me ain't savin' no time hoss

This big-wheeled wide load ain't goin' any faster

So just smile and wave and tip your hat

To the man up on the tractor"

– Craig Morgan