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Ontario agribusiness meeting reveals interesting conditions for spring

A gathering of extension personnel, certified crop advisors and farm dealers in southern Ontario on Tuesday yielded some interesting insights on current field conditions, and what might be expected in the weeks to come.

April 15, 2009  By Top Crop Manager/OMAFRA

April 15, 2009

The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs hosted the second of its spring breakfast meetings, with local CCAs and dealers in Exeter, Ontario, Tuesday, and fielded comments and observations on the status of wheat crops, an expected surge in IP soybean acres and projections on the number of corn acres expected.

According to reports from Agricorp, about 800,000 acres of winter wheat were insured last fall, with much of the crop now observed as being "variable". Some fields have come through the winter months in excellent condition, while others, it was acknowledged, will have to be plowed under. One thing that was stressed was that growers must be patient: prolonged cool conditions have many fields looking poorer now than a week ago, however warmer temperatures and some rain should help the crop green-up quickly. Those fields that were planted late and shallow last fall are the most likely to be suffering from frost heaving. Snow mould was also cited as a cause of more damage to wheat fields this spring, a result of greater snow cover this past winter.


Generally speaking, wheat that was planted from September to mid-October is now faring well, while those fields planted after October 15th are in the roughest shape and will likely go to soybeans in the next few weeks. Those fields further to the north and east, and in the Niagara region are regarded as the poorest at the present time.

There was some discussion about fertilizer prices, sales and alternatives. There seemed to be little indication of lower sales of nitrogen fertilizers, although it was agreed that many growers are waiting to see what happens to prices as spring progresses. And there was some mention of increasing use of manure to supplement N fertilizers, as well as renewed interest in (and increased sales for) red clover seed, particularly in the extreme southwestern part of the province. As a result, demand is still up but seed supplies are slim.

Seeding intentions for IP soybeans were another of the hot topics on the day, with most advisors and dealers agreeing that IP soybean acres are likely to increase substantially, likely at the cost of Roundup Ready soybean acres or edible bean acres. Premiums in the Ottawa Valley region are as high as $5.00 per bushel, and in that region, corn and spring wheat acres will also be affected. Spring wheat acres are likely to be down, but oat and barley acres are trending up. Projections for black beans are said to be up slightly while white bean acres are expected to be down drastically. It was also suggested that the region needs a "corn friendly" spring to see a similar number of acres as 2008.


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