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East Central Agribusiness Breakfast Meeting – May 29, 2019

Image: corn is being planted in the region, but field conditions are variable.
 
Thank you to Nicole Beechey from BASF for sponsoring breakfast. The next meeting will be June 12th at 7:30 am. If there are any suggestions on how to improve the meeting, or topics to discuss if you cannot attend, please let Ian McDonald or Christine O’Reilly know.
 
On May 28th, the USDA said 58% of corn acres and 30% of soybean acres are planted. Pat Lynch, Matthew Pot, and Jonathan Zettler are compiling a weekly planting progress map for Ontario. If you’re on twitter, consider responding to their surveys to assess how much field work has been done!
 
Safety needs to be everyone’s top priority as the planting season progresses. There was one fatality and several injuries in the area over the past two weeks. Taking the time to work safely and relieve some mental stress helps ensure everyone comes home safe at the end of the day.
 
Markets
 
At this point in the season, despite high carry-over stocks, the market is buying acres now because of the current weather leading to expectations of shortfall this spring. The prices on corn reflect this. Once planting is complete the price driver will switch from acres to yield potential. The basis on soybeans is still low, so at this point the pricing favours corn planting even with reduced yield potential. The markets would suggest corn planting continues for another week but after that will likely see the change happen as we get beyond a reasonable late date for planting.
 
Spraying
 
With the backup on planting and access to fields, everything is going to happen at the same time and spraying will be a bottleneck to be aware of. It will be important to prioritize spraying operations. Consider the following:
  1. On wheat, good fields get fungicide and poor fields get weed control first. Tank mixing is not recommended. Fungicides on good fields will protect grain yield, straw volume and quality in disease-enhancing weather conditions. Thin stands will experience excessive weed growth because of the lack of canopy competition.
  2. In soybeans, especially IP, it is an absolute MUST to get pre-emergence herbicide programs down to protect against resistant fleabane. Other soybean crops still need timely weed control. Many growers will be foregoing burndown treatments to get the crop in the ground. Timely applications after planting are the target and scouting to keep on top of fast growing weeds in the moist warm soil conditions that are upon us is critical.
  3. Much of the pre-plant nitrogen may get delayed again in pursuit of getting the crop in the ground. This will put more pressure on sprayers to apply fungicides on wheat, weed control on corn and soybeans, and nitrogen on corn. Consider weed and feed programs to reduce the number of trips across the field, freeing up sprayer time for other needed applications.
Weeds are getting big and with the possibility of many acres missing a burndown, herbicide performance may be less than expected. One thing in our favour is that with the cooler cloudy weather, leaf cuticles are still thin, so spray uptake should be good. But this advantage can be lost quickly when hot sunny weather arrives. Optimize weed spraying by ensuring optimal and uniform spray coverage, maintaining correct water volumes, and being mindful of the correct surfactant types and volumes to use with the various herbicide choices. We may be facing multiple applications and imperfect weed control this season.
 
On the dicamba and phenoxy products, keep in mind that we are later for many of the higher rate pre-emergence applications than normal. All the vegetation is out in bushes, fence lines, neighbours’ yards and possibly adjoining fields. Extra caution in the conditions under which these herbicides are applied is advised.
 
Manure
 
Most is still in the yard or in the pit as there has been no opportunity to apply it. Those with sold manure are putting off spreading until august. Producers with full liquid storages have no choice but to spread, but must pick fields carefully and look to alternate application options. Consider spreading just enough to provide enough storage until August, or selling manure to neighbours without it once their crop starts to come off. Look for fields of forages, cereals, or possibly unseeded acres if necessary, once ground conditions are suitable to carry the equipment.
 
Wheat
 
Many wheat fields that were released by Agricorp have not been taken out due to wet weather preventing field work and delaying the planting of other crops. It is unlikely that these fields will be taken out at this point because of timeliness, late planting window for other crops and the recognition of the need for straw. These stands are thin and will be susceptible to high weed pressure.
 
Risk of fusarium in winter wheat is high due to prolonged wet conditions and humidity. Where stands have variable maturity, time fungicide applications for when most of the field is at the appropriate growth stage. For fusarium control, applications should occur between the beginning of flowering (anthesis) up to 6 days after the beginning of flowering, where the beginning of flowering is defined as 50% or more of the heads in the field have flowers present. There may be greater issues with fusarium in highly variable stands. In some parts of the province we are reaching this growth stage already, so scouting to ensure optimal timing is critical.
 
If growers are forced to choose, apply herbicide on poor stands to manage weed pressure in the crop rotation. Apply fungicide on good stands to protect crop quality this year.
 
Weed control choice at this late stage is important. While in the area we have no flag leaf stage, there is some at penultimate leaf stage. This is mostly in the good fields and weed control in these fields is likely too late in terms of value for the herbicide dollar spent. On weaker fields that are behind, the yield hit from weeds has already occurred. There is no sense spraying from this standpoint, but these thinner weak stands may allow a lot of weed growth and this will add to the seed bank and make harvest difficult. The seed bank is less of an issue since herbicides applied at the right time, rate, and optimized spray parameters (pressure, water volume etc) should control any density of weeds. The exception is with problem weeds that are harder to kill in crop. On the harvest impacts, high density of weeds in a stand even with a pre-harvest desiccant mean that the combine has to work harder, and this may lose you more of an already compromised yield. Removing those weeds now to ensure you can capture all of the wheat potential currently in the fields may be prudent decision.
 
Herbicide choice is important as we get later in crop stage. Consult the labels and suppliers for best products to use and conditions for spraying.
 
Forages
 
Cool, wet conditions have favoured grass growth over legumes and orchardgrass is starting to head out, with other species close behind. This may surprise some producers since without much sunshine there is not a lot of yield. Once they reach reproductive stages, grasses lose their feed quality much faster than legumes, so forages should be harvested according to grass maturity. When plants start to flower, the crop has also reached peak yield. Remember: cereals grown for forage are grasses!
 
The weather is also favourable for fungal disease development – common leaf spot is already showing up in some fields. Independent research shows that fungicides are most likely to pay for themselves when the weather supports fungal growth, the interval to harvest is long, and the yield potential is high. If producers can apply a fungicide before the label’s pre-harvest interval, it is something worth considering this year. Based on days to harvest of first cut dairy forage, this is likely ahead of 2nd cut.
 
Suppliers are running low on some alternative forage crop seed. Now that corn growers are starting to switch hybrids, livestock producers should consider picking up their neighbours’ full-season hybrids as silage corn. Even if it doesn’t make half-milk stage, it can still ferment well and provide plenty of tonnage. Another option would be to take poor wheat fields as baleage, but producers should talk to Agricorp first.
 
As planting season is delayed, producers may find their hay crop is ready for harvest before they are finished planting corn. Research has shown that for every day of harvest delay, the value of forage quality lost is worth more than the value of corn yield lost. If these operations overlap, it is better to park the planter and get the hay crop harvested because it is much easier to replace the energy from the corn than the digestible fibre from the hay.
 
There was also plenty of discussion on how adaptable ruminants are when it comes to what they will eat. So long as changes to their diet are made gradually, there are many different crops cattle and sheep can consume. If feed is short some of these less then optimal feedstocks can be used to support dry animals during a feed shortage, so the best feed can be directed to the lactating animals.
 
Corn
 
The group estimates about 20% of the corn crop in the region has been planted. While CHU accumulation is lower than average, it is very similar to what we saw in 2014. There was significant discussion on whether to switch hybrids and to what extent maturity wise should they be switched. Consensus is that this year’s late planting did not miss CHUs in May, but it will be difficult to attain the typical full season CHU accumulation in the remainder of the growing season. There were strong opinions voiced for both switching hybrids and staying the course. Any decisions should be made in consultation with your seed supplier in terms of maturity and specific hybrids for your soil types and conditions. Most of the group thought it best for people to switch. However, recognize that all agree there is no right answers this season!
 
The decision on which way to go is a function of:
  1. Do you have some corn in the ground?
  2. What is your risk tolerance, i.e. higher yielding, wetter corn vs ensured maturity and dryer lower yield?
  3. What you use the corn for (grain for sale, grain for feed, corn silage)?
  4. How are you equipped to deal with wetter possibly lower grade corn at harvest drying and storage wise?
For those who choose to switch, they need to drop by 300-400 CHUs to make the change worthwhile. Regardless of the path people take, managing expectations for this crop is important. We are not dealing with a record-breaking crop and we need to plan accordingly.
 
The big unknown on the decision to switch is the openness of the fall. A long warm fall would take these longer hybrids through and result in more yield potential than switching to shorter day corn. On the other hand, an early fall could prevent those hybrids from reaching maturity. A prudent decision after consideration of the criteria above might be a combination of maturities.
 
Corn “mudded in” two weeks ago will likely perform better than corn planted into poor conditions now. Late-planted varieties already have a shorter season working against their yield potential, and if conditions turn dry they will not have the root system to cope with the added pressure. It’s better to wait for good planting conditions and apply some patience to protect the crop’s yield potential. Big planters mean lots of acres can be planted under poor conditions in short order and then you live with that the rest of the season, and with the compaction potentially into subsequent seasons. Bear in mind that the rainfall, soil type and topography variation mean there are fields that will be ready before others. Scout those fields and work your way through based on which fields are ready!
 
For corn that has been planted, it’s been taking a lot of time for emergence. There are damp soils, millipedes and other insects and slugs to contend with. Battling these when the crop is growing slowly is difficult. There are concerns that some of these fields will not make it, or will be put at a disadvantage. Follow these fields closely over the next week or so to see how they hold up.
 
Don’t cut corners. Plant at least 1.5” deep, and into moisture. Don’t work the ground too much or you will dry it out. Don’t speed up the planter. They are not made for high-speed work and the non-uniformity of the crop will cause problems later.
 
Soybeans
 
The group estimates less than 15% of soybean acres are planted in the region. Growers didn’t used to plant soybeans until mid-June, so the only concern the group has about this crop right now is weed control.
 
Planting IP soybeans needs to be timed to ensure pre-emergence herbicides are applied in time; right behind the sprayer is best. IP soybeans have no alternative weed control options for fleabane which can quickly overtake the crops.
 
Agricorp
 
Growers have a lot of questions about the Unseeded Acreage and Reseeding Benefits. To gain a better understanding of how these programs work, you can read the feature sheet or ask your local adjuster.
Source : Field Crop News