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The Cropwalker - Volume 4 Issue 44

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Crop Conditions

Winter wheat – snow in many parts of Ontario has covered up the multicolored wheat. A few more acres of winter wheat went in over the weekend. There is talk of frost seeding wheat. Below are notes from OMAFRA about spring frost seeding. In the spring we aren’t too concerned about closing the seed trench. It is more critical for fall frost seeding. As in the spring if the ground is too hard you can do some serious damage to equipment. In my experience frost seeded winter wheat without the seed trench closed will not survive through the spring cold snaps. Right now, industry estimates put winter wheat acres at no more than 700,000 but hopefully more than 600,000. Soybean’s harvest is probably 95% done. Our survey indicated 94% complete on November 7. It may take a while to get the last 5% off as combines have switched to corn. Corn harvest rolls on. Our survey indicated 55% off on November 7. Yields continue to be better than average. Provincial yields will be helped by good yields in areas that generally do not have enough rain.


Things to do this week

1.     Make notes on what diseases you want to control in each of your soybean fields for 2022. There is a plethora of seed treatments, and you can’t afford to use them all.

2.    Make a short list of soybean varieties – check to see what trait/herbicide package you will have to use to manage weeds. Select for field first, herbicide package second, unless it’s a field with weeds holding back significant yield potential.

3.    Make a list of equipment repairs to be made while it’s still fresh and top of mind. There are early order programs on both parts and repairs for those that are proactive.

Frost Seeding of Spring Cereals

Seeding spring cereals into frost refers to no-till seeding cereals into a light frost in early spring. After the snow has melted and the frost is out of the ground, there are often several cold nights with below-zero temperatures. Seeding into this light frost avoids compaction or rutting, as the frost will support the tractor. It is not essential to close the seed trench when frost seeding, as the soil will naturally fall in and cover the seed as the frost comes out of the ground. Simply set no-till equipment to make a shallow seed trench, 2.5 cm (1 in.) and firm the seed into the bottom of the trench. Do not leave seed on top of the ground since stand establishment will be very poor. The window of opportunity for this method of seeding is short. Best results are generally achieved when cereals are seeded as the frost is just beginning to firm the soil, about -3°C to -4°C, often near midnight. It is critical to stop as soon as frost begins to soften in the morning sun, as thawed soil will stick and plug equipment in as little as 15 m (50 ft) of travel. From notes from OMAFRA.

Buying Inputs for 2022

The good yields and good prices mean that there is some extra revenue in 2021. Some of this revenue from 2021 can be delayed into 2022. Here are some ideas in terms of where to spend money before year end.

  1. Seed. You can even get some discounts for early ordering. Don’t forget forage seed.
  2. Fertilizer. It does not necessarily have to be applied this year
  3. Crop protection products. You may have to put a product name to get a receipt. Most suppliers would be able to switch products in season.
  4. Pay rent in advance. Not all landlords will go for this but ask anyways
  5. Tile drainage. Generally, can’t have enough. You may not be able to pay for tile installation, but you could buy tile and have them delivered.
  6. Equipment parts. Look at what you bought the last 2 years to give you an idea as to what you will need this year.
  7. Equipment I put this last since I think it will be number 1 on most lists. But take a long look at what you really need vs. what you want. You may want a new tractor but need a new sprayer or planter.

Prioritizing Fertilizer Dollars (part 1)

1.     Highest return will be on spreading lime on every field that needs lime. Variable rate works well here.

2.     You still have time to soil test any field that does not have a test since 2018.

3.     Look at side dressing Nitrogen if you do not already do that. Side dressing saves a minimum of 30 lbs of N per acre. You may need to apply a stabilizer, depending on product, method, and weather at time of application.

4.     Typical corn starter has 30 lbs/ac P. Probably can safely reduce this to 20lbs/ac P.

Next week we will cover what fields you can draw down soil test levels without affecting yields

Comments from a reader on their forage yields 2021

Our yields were exceptional. We think we have between 9 and 12 tons per acre of forage feed as dry feed. This year there was a significant amount of grass in all three cuts. Our overall protein levels were a bit lower than normal but great quality as measured by Milk 2006. The biggest thing compared to other years was the high amount of grass in each cut. I believe this is a result of better fertility and probably residual nitrogen from previous years manure application.

Fall tillage 2022

Mould board plow will be the only option on most of this wet land. Any secondary tillage tool with discs will cause a yield loss. The downward pressure of the disc will compact the soil leading to poor soil characteristics next year. A mould board plow cuts and lifts the soil with minimal compaction. You do not want to use secondary tillage this fall “to level the land”. If you did not use a stalk chopper to break down the stalks, using a rotary mower (e.g., Bush hog) will make plowing easier.

Here is a conversation recently with a grower about mould board plowing.

Grower So I don’t understand all this about mould board ploughing. Why can’t I use a chisel plough or some secondary tillage tool like a high-speed disc or a conservation tool that combines a disc with cultivator shanks?

Me All those tools you mention will compact soil. Some of the compaction will be in the soil that is moved and may be undone by freezing action this winter. But they will also compact deeper, and frost will not undue that compaction. It is basic physics which states “for every force there is an equal and opposite force.” When you use any of these tools the opposite force compacts soil. The primary tillage tool that does the least compaction is the mould board plow. While there is some compaction there is more cutting and lifting.

Grower That is great, but I don’t know how to set a mould board plough.

Me That is understandable. Most farmers do not. If you go to a ploughing match, you see the detail that the competitors take to set their plows. And these are mounted plows with only 2-3 furrows. And they are plowing even soil. We do not have those luxuries in big fields. The reality is that it is impossible to set a plow to meet all conditions in our variable fields.

Grower So what do I do?

Me Well, you can either get an experienced plow man or you do your best. The main thing is do not bring up subsoil. And leave the plowed soil as level as possible so that you will need a minimum of secondary tillage next spring.

Basics for setting a mould board plow

1.     Ensure lift arms are the same length

2.     Both rear tire pressures should be the same

3.     The plow must be level from front to back. You do this by either adjusting the depth wheel or the lift arm’s length. If the plow has one wheel in-furrow, one arm may need to be longer than the other to get the plow level from side to side.

4.     The plow must pull straight so that you are not fighting it with the steering wheel.

5.     Top link should run slack when you are plowing.

6.     Auto-resets should all be in working order.

Remember that plow is not a 4-letter word. It is okay to use a plow. But you don’t have to plow every acre. The worst will be the headlands. Consider not plowing light areas of a field and areas with a long or steep slope. Besides if you don’t plow the whole field, it will give the neighbours something else to talk about

Notes from Syngenta Crop Masters Meeting

Seed Treatments

1)    Vayantis IV (four)

This will be the base seed treatment which is replacing Vibrance Maxx RFC. (Vibrance Maxx RFC will be available in 2022 for small lot treatments e.g., on-farm-treatments.

Vayantis IV has four actives Picarbutrazox, Sedaxane, Metalaxyl-M, Fludioxonil (I am sure you all will memorize these actives ha-ha)

These four actives give good control of Phytophthora, Pythium, Fusarium, Phomopsis. These are four of the main diseases in many soybean fields. If dealing with seedling insect feeding, you can order this fungicide package with Fortenza.

2)    Saltro

Gives control of diseases causing Sudden Death Syndrome and gives Soybean Cyst Nematode protection. For the academics the active is Adepidyn.

Product claims high biological activity against SDS pathogen

You can order seed with both Vayantis IV and Saltro.

How did the Plant Growth Regulator (PGR) Moddus work in 2021?

Initial yield information from Syngenta suggests on average yield increase of 4.7 bu/ac on 18 on-farm-trials. The range was -5 bu/ac to + 18 bu/ac. In these trials 50% of the trials had lodging.

Syngenta on-farm-trials with Miravis on winter wheat 2020-2021

Syngenta are stating that in 71 trials in 2020 and 2021 Miravis Ace out yielded the competition by 3.2bu/ac. The range went from -4 to + 15 bu/ac.

Syngenta Fungicide trials on corn 2018-2021 in 44 on-farm-trials.

On-farm-trials over 2018-2021 showed an average yield increase of 13.5 bu/ac using Miravis Neo over untreated. From on-farm-trials summarized so far in 2021 the yield increases by spraying Miravis Neo is 24.5 bu/ac.

Miravis Neo on soybeans

Miravis Neo that was registered on corn is now registered on soybeans for 2022

In Syngenta on-farm-trials harvested to date there has been an average of 5.8 bu/ac yield increase vs. check.

What drove the strong 2021 corn yields?

In my opinion it comes down to three factors…

1)    Very little plant stands losses and average to early planting. Excellent seed bed conditions.

2)    Minimal nitrogen loss in-season

3)    More than adequate soil moisture during grain fill

Notes from the Ontario Weed Committee Meeting

Waterhemp resistance test results

Group 2 imazethapyr – 95%

Group 9 glyphosate – 77%

Group 5 atrazine – 64%

Group 14 lactofen – 42%

Group 5 metribuzin – 6%

Three new herbicide products reviewed.

1)    Bayer’s Laudis – group 27 corn herbicide with knock down and residue. Application from 2-8 leaf. Registered for broadleaf weed control and grass suppression. Usually, tank mix with glyphosate or Partner/Atrazine. 2021 label additions are Canada fleabane, Waterhemp and Giant Ragweed.

2)    FMC’s Express FX – Express SG (tribenuron-methyl) plus dicamba for fall burndown. Must be mixed with glyphosate. Flexibility on crop rotation given the chemistry Currently working on registration for glyphosate resistant fleabane.

3)    Syngenta’s Tavium – Premix of dicamba plus S-metolachlor for use in Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybeans. Label has been updated to apply pre-plant, preemergent and up to and including the 2nd trifoliate.

Bluegrass ID

Based on 23 samples in 2021, the following were found.

61% annual bluegrass (annual, winter annual)

26% rough stalk bluegrass (perennial)

9% fowl meadow grass (perennial)

4% Canada bluegrass (perennial)

Herbicide trials in wheat – for spring application - best activity occurs when less than 10 cm tall, over 10 cm tall and if there is any activity it is usually suppression. If you do not control, up to 50% yield loss in heavy infestations. Will review products used next week.

Soybean Stem Diameter – Post Harvest

I use soybean stem diameter as a gauge on what the yield potential of the plant was in the field. Small diameter is an indicator to me that the plant was suffering, typically due to a root related issue or delayed emergence. If you were disappointed in your soybean yields, look at the stem diameter of those fields you were happy with vs those that were not. Also dig up some of the root systems and assess. Plant population will also heave an impact soybean stem diameter.

NASM and Organic Amendments – How to value

With high fertilizer prices, these products tend to get a lot more attention. But there are a few issues. The total amount of nutrient isn’t always available in the year of application, some nutrients like nitrogen may be lost from time of application to crop requirements, and the costs of hauling/handling may out way the benefits.

Here are a few pointers.

Nitrogen availability/losses will depend on the composition of nitrogen (nitrate/ammonia/organic) and the method/time of application. Value the nitrogen component based upon the method of application and timing, not as what’s in the material. See example below for anaerobic digestate. NMAN or Agrisuite is an excellent tool to quantify the impact this has on the material in question.

Figure 1 - Anaerobic Digestate Nitrogen Credit by Application Time/Place

Phosphorus – as a rule of thumb 40% of total P in the material is available in the year of application. The remaining 40% is available in subsequent years, with 20% being tied up. This is the same for P in manure.

Potassium – as a rule of thumb 90% of total K in the material is available in the year of application. The remaining 10% is tied up.

With high fertilizer prices, section control will pay better than normal this year

In the fall of 2018, I wanted Ontario farmers to invest in fertilizer spreaders with section control, so I made the calculator to estimate the savings. I have two examples, one at historical fertilizer prices, and one at expect spring prices. This is what it is costing you applying product where you may not get a response due to over application. And in some crops like winter wheat, it’s likely double due to lodging.

Example operation below for a 400-acre farm with 100 acres of wheat, 100 acres of corn, 100 acres of soybeans and 100 acres of grassy hay.

Figure 2 - Section Control Savings at $550/MT Fertilizer
Figure 3 - Section Control Savings @ $800/MT Fertilizer

How to maximize fertilizer dollars if you don’t want to invest in variable rate or section control?

Run dry fertilizer as starter.

What’s that creepy vine winter annual weed in my field?

Three weeds come to mind.

One is common chickweed

Picture 1 - Common Chickweed
Picture 2 - Common Chickweed

Or maybe it is the close cousin mouse-eared chickweed

Picture 3 - Mouse Eared Chickweed (Peter Smith - OMAFRA)

A third is Bird’s Eye Speedwell, which has fig like leaves.

Picture 4 - Bird's Eye Speedwell
Picture 5 - Bird's Eye Speedwell

“One day it started raining, and it didn’t quit for four months. We been through every kind of rain there is. Little bitty stingin’ rain… and big ol’ fat rain. Rain that flew in sideways. And sometimes rain even seemed to come straight up from underneath. Shoot, it even rained at night…”

– Forrest Gump