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Mt. Forest Agribusiness Breakfast Meeting – June 4, 2019

Only one retail outlet was represented at the meeting indicating that field work was still at full speed ahead of forecasted rain for late Tuesday into Wednesday. There has been considerable progress across the area in the last few days. Some areas of the province continue to struggle such as south Huron and Perth and further southwest into the heavier soils of Lambton, Chatham, Essex and Niagara. These areas with the heaviest soils have continued to receive more rain than other areas where planting has progressed. Rainfall over the weekend varied from a few millimetres to over 2” across a wide area and up to 4-6 “ across mid to south Perth and south.
 
Anticipate if we miss the Tuesday-Wednesday rain that most fields would be workable this week.
 
Pest Control
 
Lots of calls have been coming in about changing spray programs. Many have just planted and are now trying to get the herbicide program figured out. It’s going to be an important year for really knowing what and at what stage weeds are at in the field before making those program choices. Work with the retail and industry reps to ensure a sound program for your situation. Many situations will be unique and have to be managed on a field to field basis.  
 
Weed control programs are likely going to be more expensive as simple programs will be much less effective at this point due to large weed size. Programs will need to include multiple modes of action to be effective. Keep the spray volumes, surfactants and tank mix options optimized to get on top of the situations.
 
Weed control options in IP soybeans are especially important as post-emerge options are limited. It will likely be a workup and replant scenario if a pre-emerge herbicide is missed and fleabane is a problem.
 
The time from planting to emergence for the crop just planted will likely happen rapidly. It’s going to be a struggle to get to these fields in time for both pre and post emerge timings. Keep on top of those fields. Spike in corn or cracking in soybeans are sensitive timings so it is best to wait until they are more fully emerged.
 
For products prone to volatilization, watch the weather closely for wind and weather inversions. Many of these treatments will be going down later than normal so extra diligence should be taken to avoid any off-target movement.  
 
Don’t forget about insects in this frustrating spring. Often in backward years, insects can do considerable damage when crops are slow to emerge and growth is slow overall. Information on insect pests to watch out for is available here.
 
Corn
 
Estimates for the area are 60% of corn is in the ground with many being done but some of the bigger operators still having lots of acres to go. It has been drier further north and east within the region so Bruce and North Huron are over 75% done, while as little as 35% to the south of the area. Very little is emerged but where it has looks ok and is now at the 1-2 leaf stage.  Much of the corn has taken 3.5-4 weeks to emerge; however, the latest planted corn should emerge quicker with the warmer temperatures. Corn roughed in over the last month has benefited from the continued moisture not sealing the soil and leading to emergence problems. Where rows go through the “sticky stuff” plants have not emerged but digging finds them trying to come. If this is extensive in a field, the lack of uniformity could make management throughout the remainder of the season a challenge.  
 
There is concern for those fields worked too wet this spring especially if it turns hot and dry. This includes equipment-based soil compaction and seed trench smearing for the most part. Seed trench smearing will show as deformed corn early and purpling corn in the 4-5 leaf stage. Purpling can be caused by other processes such as slow growth, but it may be an indicator. Look for roots running horizontally down the plane of the seed trench rather than vertically. Weather will determine if the root systems can push through.
 
Differences in leaf count on corn might be a depth of seeding problem. Planters are usually pretty good at depth control but were running in wetter than normal conditions with mud building up on depth wheels and people not stopping like they usually would. Where corn rows cross wheel tracks there is indication that compaction had an effect.
 
Fertilizer has been going out the door, so not anticipating a big rush to get post N on or a back up of spray rigs.
 
Deciding on  final nitrogen fertilizer needs is still an unknown. Late planting and cool conditions mean little N mineralization has occurred. We should expect good mineralization of soil N considering warmer temperatures and moist soils. There is an opportunity to be more targeted with N rates this year due to the later planted crop.  We may see an opportunity to cut back on N rates compared to average years. The yield potential of the 2019 crop will be set at a later date, so with side dress and later N applications we have the chance to get a good handle on how much organic N is going to be available by doing the PSNT towards the end of June instead of the beginning.
 
A lot of hybrid switching has happened, and some growers have been switched a couple of times as planting dates were further delayed. For the most part people were able to get what they needed. This is less likely as we get later and planting starts on those heavier textured soils. There are more calls for those shorter day hybrids over a much larger area including into the US now.
 
Soybeans
 
We are not significantly late with soybean planting despite the spring. Some soybeans are in, up to 50% in some parts of the region with a lot of planters observed in the fields Sunday and Monday.  Probably currently looking at 25-35% of the soybeans in.
 
With the delayed planting, it’s advised to bump seeding rates up by 10% until June 15th.  After June 15th rates should be bumped up by another 10%. However, the converse of this is cool, wet conditions may foster white mold in fields that typically see the problem or with heavy canopies. Give this some thought as you approach seeding these types of fields.
 
Don’t skimp on seeding depth. Its still important to get that seed deep enough. Target 1.5 inches and no shallower than 1inch. Even if the soil is wet, plant full depth as the top can dry out quickly, especially if over tilled. You need to give those plants the right environment for establishing strong root systems. Shallow planting does not foster that.
 
The biggest issue with soybeans will be weed control at this point, especially on IP varieties. See Pest Control section above.
 
Delayed planting is going to hurt winter wheat planting this fall. Discussion on shortening up maturity went both ways. The thoughts were that changing maturity didn’t buy many extra planting days in the fall for wheat. Better to target soybean planting of those fields intended for wheat this fall first. The other issue is why not harvest early and dry crush beans. It will take some management to get the winter wheat crop planted timely this fall.
 
Forages
 
There are still people looking for forages. Most mixes are sold out, but straight alfalfa supplies are adequate to meet demands. Access to other short-term annual forages continue to be scarce but can be found. Any annual forage type seed that has been returned, quickly finds a new home.
 
Haylage harvest has started in the area, and people are realizing they are going to be short on feed. A number of fields of wheat have been harvested for wheatlage.
 
The problem continues to be worse further east. Even in the area people are still planting forages, both because of delayed planting due to soil conditions and the realization of need for more forage based on overwintering losses of perennial stands. Where farmers are finding their stands with more winter kill then expected, some are just coming to that realization and not sure what to do. Stocks of alternate forage seed are low, and lateness of season in terms of replanting new alfalfa fields seems less of an option at this point.
 
Further information on alternative forage crops can be found here. Recommendations for establishing regular forage crops and managing winter killed forage stands is available here. New seeding alfalfa stands that have failed can be reseeded to alfalfa within one year of the original seeding date.
 
There was some discussion on the longevity and winter hardiness of forage stands. People feel we are getting more winter kill. It seems this is more prevalent in dairy forage. It’s mostly a function of intensive management on these stands, particularly as it relates to cutting. Perennial forage stands may have a total of 9-12 cuts of life in them but we have now moved to 4 and 5 cuttings per year.  Weed control, fertilization, compaction and tramping damage from manure application has also had an impact on the hardiness of these stands.
 
The past work on critical fall harvest dates seems to be outdated due to the change in management, varieties and seasons.  On stressful years late fall cuttings may be causing a lack of root reserve buildup to weather the winters. Winters are also tougher with more freeze/thaw cycles and water and ice laying for extended periods of time. The springs have not been kind to the forages either.  It is recommended to manage cutting by the crop stage not the calendar and ensure stands are not being pushed too far.
 
Spring Cereals
 
Spring cereals are planted and look like they are off to a fairly good start. Not all intended acres are planted but it is getting to the very end of the extended window. While there was acreage planted in April, much of the spring crop has been planted in the last 10 days. This is a bit concerning for yield potential should the weather turn hot during the flowering period.  Some are taking the risk to maintain rotations and/or the need for straw locally.  A significant amount of spring cereals this year may be harvested for forage based on perennial forage shortage.
 
[FJ(1] Normal delays in planting spring cereals often cause up to 10% yield reduction compared to optimal timings, in both cases when seeded under good conditions. Expect more than 10% yield hit this year. This is less of a concern where the crop will be harvested for forage.
 
There was discussion about planting cereals later for fall grain harvest. It works for forage but not for grain. The seasonality changes over the year so it’s not a day for day replacement thing. Day length, disease pressure in cool damp falls, summer soil moisture at seeding and lots of other factors come into play.
 
Of the spring cereals, some spring wheat came back, but no oats and barley have been returned.
 
Winter Wheat
 
Some really good fields starting to show themselves now. Head is moving up the plant, not at flag leaf yet across most of the area but should be soon. It’s too late for weed control in many fields.  Some of the winter wheat acres that were expected to be taken out are now being kept due to the delay in the season and the need to spread out workload.
 
There is significant concern for fusarium this year. To the south DONcast  (http://www.weathercentral.ca/)  is showing high risk potential and a T3 fungicide application is recommended. In many fields timing will be difficult due to the lack of uniformity in stands. Apply when the majority of the heads are at the correct stage. When 75% of the heads on the main stem reach GS59 (head emergence complete) is known as “day 0”.  The optimum fungicide application timing is shortly after this on “day 2”.  Day 2 is the beginning of pollination when anthers are visible on the middle of the wheat head.  This timing is critical because this is when the peak number of florets are open and susceptible to infection.  If temperatures are warm during this period it could result in the wheat crop moving quickly through these growth stages so it will be important to track the staging of your wheat crop as it approaches heading (GS59). Further information on managing fusarium in 2019 is available here. 
 
Too late for growth regulators and most of the crop is going to be shorter anyway.
 
Cereal leaf beetle has been found in the traditional pockets like Waterloo and Essex county. With the reduced acres of wheat, the fields remaining will be under more intense pressure where this insect gets going.
 
There are fields of wheat with light yellow areas where tissue tests have shown low in S and soil tests low in Mg. This spottiness is showing up even where S has been applied through ATS. Group felt that the continued wet feet and cooler conditions has slowed crop growth and reduced mineralization in the soil making both those nutrients less available to the plant so far. With warmer weather we should start to see this go away. It’s too late to address this in the fields with fertilization. People wondering about the need for Mg and other micros in fertilizer blends. Observe how the crop responds over the next couple of weeks in terms of plans for future.
 
The difference in staging between early and late planted wheat last fall appear to be getting further apart. Fields where there was a 3 week difference in planting last fall to finish, are showing more than that difference today. Will be interesting to track yields in those fields.
 
Agricorp
 
Over 4000 winter wheat damage reports have come in to date.. Some damage claims for reseeding have been paid. While many fields were released, it is difficult to estimate   how many of those stands will actually  be removed before harvest.
 
Further information is on the Agricorp website for:
 
RMP – http://www.agricorp.com/en-ca/Programs/RMP/GandO/Pages/Overview.aspx
 
USAB – http://www.agricorp.com/SiteCollectionDocuments/PI-Featuresheet-UnseededAcreageAndReseeding-en.pdf
 
USAB (unseeded acreage benefit) requires that all spring crops be insured with Agricorp and that you and many in your neighbourhood are unable to plant due to weather or some other reason other than drought. Need to speak to Agricorp before June 15th if you think you will be making this claim.
 
If you are a grain grower and can’t get corn in by June 15th, you have to switch to soybeans. If you are a corn only grower and have not traditionally been a soybean grower, and don’t have the equipment etc. there is a claim possibility under USAB. The same will hold if you have a corn herbicide program applied that prevents you from planting soybeans due to concerns over crop injury.
 
If you have taken wheat out and got a reseeding claim and intend to plant soybeans but can’t get them planted, you don’t get USAB on the soybean crop. It falls back to a zero-yield production claim on the winter wheat. They don’t pay out on these early as they need to know harvest market price to make the correct calculations.
 
NE Ontario
 
They have had a good run, with 90% of growers done all of their planting.  The remaining acres will likely finish this week.. There has been some minor soybean reseeding happening. Canola planting has been delayed but its one of those years where there isn’t a right answer. Usually it’s a swede midge and flowering temperature issue. This year, it’s hard to tell how those will line up so late planting dates might not be as problematic as expected.
Source : Field Crop News