It was a small group in attendance at the Simcoe breakfast meeting this week. Some may have been busy with field work, but overall things are still moving slowly across the region and may not be moving at all on heavy soils that remain wet. Those in attendance reported that producers are optimistic planting will begin in a big way this coming weekend, or maybe into next week. While we are looking for more heat to move the winter wheat along and dry out fields for planting corn and soybeans, it is a good thing we do not see very high heat in the short-term forecast, which can bake the soil surface and trap moisture below on heavy ground.
Ag business personnel at the meeting agreed that we must consider the ways in which we can provide stress relief for producers or lend a supportive ear. Fall and spring have been distressing for many, and overwhelmingly for some. Those who have had experience with years like this may be able to provide reassurance for younger producers who are going through one of their first exceedingly difficult years.
Some soil temperatures were taken on the weekend. A field in Waterford that was ready to plant had a temperature of 16.5° C at a 6” depth last week, and another in Niagara was 13° C at a 2” depth on Sunday.
Planting progress is at essentially 0% in Haldimand and Niagara, while lighter ground in Norfolk is at around 50% completion. It was noted that a field planted to corn about 10 days ago in the Simcoe area still has not emerged. We need heat! We know that when we turn the corner and conditions are good, a lot of work can happen in a relatively short time. Be patient for good conditions, we want the crop planted right the first time and may not have a chance to replant. Historical planting date data, shared online by Dr. Dave Hooker (see below), shows there is only about an 8 bu/ac yield difference between corn planted May 5th vs June 8th. Yield potential is still good so stay the course on corn planting intentions. Current prices seem to indicate slightly lower corn yields due to later planting may be more profitable than an average soybean crop.
Corn growers have begun switching hybrids and are trying to plant 96 day corn now. It is expected some will look to move down to 85 day corn as the calendar advances. So far there has not been much variety switching for soybeans. It is not recommended to switch to short season soybeans until after June 15th. The province-wide planting deadline for crop insurance on corn is June 15th, and for soybeans is June 30th.
A lot of manure has been going out over the past week. Many have full manure storages causing them to apply before fields are dry enough; some compaction is likely occurring.
It was noted that we have not yet discussed many spray topics at the breakfast meetings because field work just isn’t there yet. Some producers are new to growing dicamba-tolerant soybeans and are reminded that specific low-drift nozzles are a requirement. Ensure you get all the details on correct application of dicamba products before applying. Be aware that the frequency of temperature inversions increases into June/late June. You can find information on inversions, how to detect them, and how they affect spray dispersion and drift here: https://sprayers101.com/surface-inversions/
In the Niagara peninsula, 55-60% of winter wheat acres have been released by Agricorp. This is not unlike other areas of the province. Some fields that looked poor may be kept now; it may have remained too wet to get on the field to terminate, or producers may be concerned they cannot get the fields replanted in good time.
Across the region, some fields still do not have nitrogen applied, and/or conditions have not allowed for the wheat to respond to applied nitrogen yet. Not much fungicide application has occurred either. Only great looking fields are getting the best treatment, and some are managing costs on poor wheat fields.
The group discussed the viability of the existing winter wheat fields. If you look at the average condition of the wheat, with no nitrogen applied (or no response to nitrogen yet), and plants around 4” tall, what is the yield potential? It is a difficult question to answer. Peter Johnson has suggested that later October planted wheat has not “kicked” or is advancing slower than it should, and the developmental gap between early and later planted wheat is widening rather than narrowing. The later planted crop may have “cold injury”, resulting in spindly plants with reduced tillering, and overall reduced vigour and yield. Some indication that this may be true comes from observations of frost seeded wheat that is almost surpassing the developmental stage of late October planted wheat. Johnson suggests that the yield potential of winter wheat that has cold injury may only be 60%, and thin stands are extra worrisome. In addition, it was noted that a field in Niagara with good top growth had crusted soil and a huge clump of soil was pulled up with the roots, suggesting roots may not be getting enough air. Plants need air for growth, and in these conditions may not get access to air until the ground cracks.
We look forward to hearing more on planting progress at the next meeting, and remind producers to operate safely as they work hard to get field work done.
Thanks to Ken Currah and BASF for sponsoring breakfast.