Parts of Canada’s prairies will be wetter than normal in the last two weeks of April, costing farmers “significant” field work delays at the start of planting, says Joel Widenor, an agricultural meteorologist with Commodity Weather Group in Bethesda, Maryland. | READ MORE
Published in Seeding/Planting
Prairie farmers primarily use urea (46-0-0), anhydrous ammonia (82-0-0), or liquid urea-ammonium nitrate (UAN) (28-0-0) as their nitrogen (N) fertilizer sources. Nitrogen fertilizer can be lost due to volatilization, denitrification or leaching, depending on how the N is applied and the weather conditions after application. 
Published in Fertilizer
"A lot of Manitoba soybean growers are using tillage to try to extend their growing season by warming up and drying out their soils earlier in the spring. They want to be able to plant earlier so their soybeans will have a good chance of maturing before a fall frost arrives,” says Yvonne Lawley, a professor of agronomy and cropping systems at the University of Manitoba.
Published in Tillage
A new pea class may break new ground for growers and processors on the Prairies. The first varieties, Redbat 8 and Redbat 88, were developed by the Crop Development Centre at the University of Saskatchewan. Both have been released by the Saskatchewan Pulse Growers (SPG) to ILTA Grain through SPG’s Tender Release Program.
Published in Plant Breeding
Breeders continue to focus on early maturing hybrids and bring a variety of stacked traits to western Canadian corn growers. Seed companies have supplied Top Crop Manager with the following information on the new corn hybrids for 2017. Growers are advised to check local performance trials to help in variety selection. The listing is by ascending crop heat units (CHU).
Published in Corn
Soybean breeders continue to focus on early maturing soybean hybrids and bring myriad stacked traits to Western Canadian growers. Seed companies have supplied Top Crop Manager with the following information on the new soybean hybrids for 2017. Growers are advised to check local performance trials to help with their variety selections. Listing is by crop heat unit (CHU)/maturity rating.
Published in Soybeans
Generally researchers try to stay ahead of farming practices, but lately they find themselves chasing an explanation for an emerging one.
Published in Seeding/Planting
Agnition announced today that the Canadian Food Inspection Agency has granted registration for two products in Canada, Generate for crops and Commence for wheat seed treatment. Both products will be available to Canadian farmers for the 2017 growing season.
Published in Seed Treatment
A University of Manitoba study is generating some surprising results about soil temperatures and soybean planting dates.
Published in Soybeans
In 2016, soybean production in Manitoba reached a high of 1.6 million acres. This significant increase is partly due to the introduction of early-maturing soybean varieties that have expanded production to “non-traditional” growing areas. However, frost and near-freezing temperatures in spring and fall still remain a risk for soybean growers in Manitoba.
Published in Soybeans
Conducting regular soil tests is one of the simplest, fastest and least expensive ways to optimize one’s fertilizer program and maximize crop yield. Yet many producers still underuse this vital tool.
Published in Soil
According to Joanna Follings, cereals specialist for the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) based in Stratford, Ont., stand establishment problems in winter wheat tend to happen depending on the year.

In 2015, Ontario producers saw excellent fall conditions for planting, and most got their crop in early, so plants were well established going into the winter.

In 2014, producers weren’t so lucky: a wet fall meant delayed planting, and to make matters worse it was followed by a cold winter. Many producers experienced problems with winter survival.

“It can be a challenge for growers to get out in to the field in a timely manner,” Follings says.

Peter Johnson, an agronomist with Real Agriculture, is currently working on studies examining the impact of soil type, seeding rates and seeding dates on stand establishment.

“Typically here in Ontario we get about 70 per cent stand establishment,” Johnson says. “We get higher levels if we seed earlier into excellent conditions. Last year we were getting fields with 85 per cent stand establishment, but typically we seed under less than ideal conditions.”

There’s a growing body of research pointing to agronomic methods that can improve stand establishment in winter wheat even in bad years, Johnson says. This year, he and technician Shane McClure wrapped up a three-year “seeding rate by seeding date” interaction study, and the data should be available soon.

But Johnson says it’s clear that the earlier producers seed, the lower their seeding rate can be. The later they seed, the higher the seeding rate should be in order to maximize sunlight interception.

“We seed ultra early, two weeks prior to the recommended date, and at that stage we recommend decreasing seeding rate by 25 per cent,” Johnson says. “Our normal target is about 1.5 million seeds per acre, and when we seed two weeks ahead of optimum date, we can drop that to 1.2 million seeds quite easily, with no impact on yield.” On heavy clay soils, he recommends starting at 1.8 million seeds per acre and adjusting seeding rates according to date from there.

“Once you’ve moved past optimum seeding date, my standard recommendation is to increase seeding populations 100,000 plants per acre for every five days past that optimum date.”

In areas prone to heavy snow loads, snow mould infestations are much more severe with early seeding dates and high seeding rates. “Lodging concerns increase when growers seed heavy seeding rates early,” Johnson says. “But with highest wheat yields coming from early seeding dates, seeding early at lower seeding rates just makes sense.”

Seed treatments?
This year, Kelly Turkington, a pathologist with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s (AAFC) Lacombe Research and Development Centre in Lacombe, Alta., and Brian Beres, an agronomist with AAFC’s Lethbridge Research and Development Centre in Lethbridge, Alta., published new research pointing to the effectiveness of seed treatments used in tandem with appropriate sowing density to overcome poor stand establishment in winter wheat.

In one study, Beres and Turkington argue seed treatments are best used to offset weak, low-yielding systems.

If producers are starting with high quality seed with good germination rates, good vigour and low levels of pathogen infection, and they’re putting seed into a system with good seed-to-soil contact and using appropriate seeding rates, Turkington says the impact of seed treatments will be limited.

“Where we’ve seen seed treatments are a real benefit is when seed-borne disease, diseases that will impact germination, seedling growth or stand establishment, or diseases like smuts, are present in a field,” he says.

Turkington’s work was all done in Western Canada, but Johnson says similar results have been seen in Eastern Canada. “If you’re seeding into ideal conditions from a stand establishment point of view with no disease pressure, you may not see the benefit of seed treatments,” he echoes. “But if you get bunt in your wheat crop, that’s 100 per cent crop loss. For $3 per acre of seed treatment, or even $5 per acre, whatever that premium is, we can’t afford to take that risk.”

Johnson recommends every producer use a good fungicide seed treatment. Insecticide on the seed isn’t needed everywhere, but is more regionally isolated according to soil type and insect pressure. But he feels fungicide seed treatments are essential, even though they don’t always increase yield. “If I get dwarf bunt or common bunt in the crop, the grain comes out of the field smelling like rotten fish. The industry simply won’t accept it. That risk is simply too high,” he says.

“In terms of stand establishment, we see a benefit in stand establishment if you apply a fungicidal seed treatment under adverse conditions.”
Published in Cereals
Seeding date and seeding rate can have a big influence on canola yields and quality. The challenge is to get them both just right – a date that’s not too early and not too late, and a rate that’s not too low and not too high. Now a project has determined optimum seeding dates and rates for locations across Eastern Canada.

The project had its origins back in 2009 when the Growing Forward 1 program identified canola as a research priority because of the great potential for expanding canola production in Eastern Canada. Canadian opportunities were emerging for canola’s use in biodiesel because federal and provincial governments were setting requirements for Canadian diesel fuel to contain a portion of biodiesel. At about the same time, a major oilseed crushing plant was opening near Trois-Rivières, Que., providing a closer buyer for canola growers in Quebec and the Maritimes. And Eastern Canadian crop growers were becoming interested in canola as a higher value alternative to some of the cereal crops commonly grown in their rotations.

“[Good agronomic information is essential to advance adoption of any crop.] And some of the first questions that farmers who are thinking about a new crop alternative would ask are: When should we seed this crop, and at what population density?” says Bao-Luo Ma, a senior research scientist specializing in crop physiology with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s (AAFC) Ottawa Research and Development Centre (RDC).

To answer those two important questions for canola growers in Eastern Canada, Ma initiated the project in 2011. The objectives were to examine the effects of canola seeding date and rate on seed yields, oil yields and other factors, and to develop a model for estimating optimum seeding dates for locations in Eastern Canada.

The project involved field experiments at seven locations: Harrington, P.E.I.; Canning, N.S.; Fredericton, N.B.; Saint-Augustin-de-Desmaures, Que.; Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue, Que.;
Ottawa; and Guelph, Ont. To carry out the research, Ma collaborated with many researchers: Hong Zhao, a visiting scientist; Zhiming Zheng at AAFC-Ottawa RDC; Aaron Mills at AAFC-Charlottetown RDC; Claude Caldwell at Dalhousie University; Peter Scott at the New Brunswick Department of Agriculture, Aquaculture and Fisheries; Anne
Vanasse at Laval University; Donald Smith at McGill University; and Hugh Earl at the University of Guelph.

In 2011 and 2012 at each site, the plot treatments compared early, intermediate, and late seeding dates. The actual seeding dates depended on local weather conditions and site accessibility. At most of the sites, three seeding rates were compared: 2.5, five and 7.5 kilograms per hectare (kg/ha). A fourth seeding rate of 10 kg/ha was included at Guelph. At all the sites, the experiments used the same canola hybrid: InVigor 5440.

The project team measured such factors as plant stand, branches per plant, pods per plant, seeds per pod, 1,000-seed weight, seed yield, and seed oil and protein concentrations.

The model was developed using the data collected in 2011 and 2012. Then Ma led a two-year field experiment at Ottawa RDC in 2013 and 2014 to collect additional data for verifying the model. This experiment compared four seeding dates and three seeding rates.

The project was funded by the Eastern Canada Oilseeds Development Alliance and AAFC through the Developing Innovative Agri-Products program of Growing Forward 1, and the Canola Council of Canada and AAFC through the AgriInnovation Program of Growing Forward 2.

Key results
“The number one finding from this project is that optimum seeding date is important for optimizing yields and it is site-specific,” Ma says. Based on the project’s data, the optimum canola seeding dates are: Ottawa, April 24; Guelph, April 26; Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue, April 26; Canning, April 29; Saint-Augustin-de-Desmaures, May 11; and Harrington, May 25.

The optimum dates for Saint-Augustin-de-Desmaures and Harrington were relatively late in the spring. At Saint-Augustin-de-Desmaures, that was because of the area’s high risk of flea beetle damage earlier in the spring.

At Harrington, it was because of the cold spring weather. (No optimum seeding date was determined for Fredericton because of field inaccessibility issues.)

“The timely or optimum seeding date of a crop is very critical because you want to maximize utilization of the natural resources like light, water and temperature,” Ma explains.

“If you plant too early, the crop will face cold stress and may take much longer to germinate and emerge, and the seedlings will be weaker and more vulnerable to attacks by insects like flea beetles.” So for optimum crop growth, growing conditions following seeding of canola need to be warm enough to promote good stand establishment.

However, if you seed too late, canola yields and quality may be reduced. Ma says, “Canola is a cool-season crop. When growing canola in Eastern Canada, you may have the risk of very high temperatures and sometimes drought stress at flowering time. For the flowering canola crop this is very critical. Temperatures above 29 C will cause flower abortion, there will be not enough pollen for pollination, and yields will be lower.” Earlier seeding gives the crop a better chance of avoiding heat and drought stress during flowering.

Ma notes earlier seeding also tends to give the plant more time for foliage development, resulting in more branches, more pods and heavier seeds.
As well, research has shown early seeding tends to result in higher oil content in canola seed. “So even in a year when the yield is no different whether you seed one week or two weeks earlier or later, the chances are you will get a higher seed oil concentration in the early-seeded canola compared to the later-seeded canola,” he explains.

The field experiments showed some exceptions to this general rule about higher oil levels with early seeding, Ma says. “For example, in one year at [Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue], later seeding sometimes resulted in higher seed oil concentrations than early seeding. We think that was because in that particular year, the early-seeded plots suffered greatly from flea beetle damage.” The flea beetles damaged the main growing point on some canola plants. Some of those plants were able to eventually recover and produce additional branches. “The seeds on these later branches matured later than the seeds on the main stem of the later-planted crop. So in that particular environment, early seeding did not produce seeds with a higher oil concentration.”

The project’s other key finding is that a seeding rate of about five kg/ha is optimum for most situations in Eastern Canada.

The results showed raising the seeding rate from 2.5 to five kg/ha usually increased the seed yield for early-seeded canola. However, further seeding rate increases above five kg/ha did not increase yield.

Canola can usually reach its yield potential with a range of seeding rates because the plants will compensate for differing seeding rates by changing the number of branches and number of seeds they produce. However, very low and very high seeding rates are not recommended.

“If you plant too many seeds that will not be economic [because of the seed costs for the producer] and because the plants will compensate by producing fewer branches and fewer seeds,” Ma

“On the other hand, if the seeding rate is too low, [the crop yield] will suffer due to insufficient plant density.” And even if the crop is able to produce enough extra branches and seeds to compensate for a very low seeding rate, the extra seeds set on the branches may not be ready for harvest at the same time as the seeds on the main stems of the plants.

However, Ma notes that if growers are seeding canola during cold conditions, a slightly higher seeding rate would tend to provide better yields. In that situation, the higher rate can help compensate for the poorer germination and emergence, and weaker seedlings that can result from the cold seedbed.

Another important project result is the model developed to estimate the optimum seeding date. For most of the project sites, the model was able to
accurately estimate the seeding date with the potential to reach maximum seed yields. In this model, the optimum seeding date is a function of the location’s 30-year average (1982 to 2012) daily minimum air temperature in April and May.

Canola growers in Eastern Canada can use the seeding date for the location in Ma’s study that is closest to their own farm or use Ma’s equation to estimate their optimum seeding date, and then seed at a rate of about five kg/ha.
Published in Canola
Research abounds on best management practices for top canola yields, but where the rubber hits the road is out in the field. A survey of 68 randomly selected canola farm fields across the Prairies identified the top practices farmers use to target high yield.  
Published in Canola
Variable rate (VR) technology has been around long enough that VR fertilizer application is common. But what about VR seeding rates? Like VR fertilizer, VR seeding seeks to smooth out field variability so crop establishment is more uniform.
Published in Precision Ag
Sept. 15, 2016 - As the remains of harvested, dried and brown alfalfa basked in the summer sunshine on Gerald Janssens dairy farm, neighbour Fritz Jaspers made his way around the field with a combine seeder to plant winter wheat.

Jaspers laid down more than four metric tons of AAC gateway winter wheat seed on 24 hectares of Janssens land.

This particular variety is recommended by agriculture researcher Tarlok Singh Sahota, after three years of testing at the Thunder Bay Agricultural Research Station. The seed was proven to give the highest grain yield amongst all winter wheat varieties. | READ MORE.
Published in Cereals
Sept. 6, 2016 - The Government of Canada has announced an investment of $1,825,000 to Clean Seed Agricultural Technologies Ltd. to support the commercialization, production and distribution of a new, high-precision seeder. With this funding from the AgriInnovation Program (part of the Growing Forward 2 agricultural policy framework), six seeders will be produced and field tested on farms, in addition to upgrades of the production line.

"This technology represents a new step forward in precision, no-till farming that will help farmers maximize their production and profits, while reducing their environmental footprint," says Terry Beech, parliamentary secretary to the minister of science.

Precision seeding equipment uses sophisticated field/soil mapping technology which enables the farmer to apply precise amounts of seed, fertilizer and nutrients, at the right time, to maximize yields and reduce cost.
Published in Machinery
June 22, 2016 - Over the past week, widespread thunderstorm activity has provided adequate moisture to most of Alberta, although some western parts of south and central regions have received less than 60 mm of moisture since the start of growing season. While these areas have received enough moisture to sustain growth in recent days, they are still in need of more moisture.

Provincially, crop growing conditions across the province improved by two per cent and are now 82 per cent good to excellent, compared with the five-year average (2011-2015) of 73 per cent. About 83 per cent of spring wheat, 79 per cent of barley, 90 per cent of oats, 82 per cent of canola and 81 per cent of dry peas are in good to excellent condition. In terms of crop development, most cereals across the province are in the stem elongation stage.

Published in Seeding/Planting

June 13, 2016, Mapleton, N.D. — To meet growing demand from customers, Horsch LLC has introduced the Joker RT40, a 40-foot-wide version of its popular RT Joker Series. The new model features a five-section design with adjustable down pressure to closely follow ground contours and evenly distribute the machine's weight for ensuring precise tillage depths. It also folds to a transport width of 15 feet, 8 inches for transport down narrow roads and for easy maneuverability.

The RT40 offers the same agronomic benefits as other RT Joker models for residue management and seedbed preparation, as well as incorporating chemicals, fertilizer and manure. Its 20-inch notched blades provide precise soil engagement and residue sizing, while optimal spacing between the front and rear ranks allows for maximum soil and residue throughput. Additionally, the RollFlex Finishing System consolidates the soil to accelerate residue decomposition, create a firm seedbed and retain moisture for rapid and even crop emergence.

"Our engineering team has done an amazing job to develop a 40-foot Joker that maintains the same proven agronomic principles of our current Joker RT models and have it in narrow transport width," said Jeremy Hughes, product manager at Horsch LLC. "The new five-fold design gives customers a wider working width along with terrain following attributes without sacrificing any performance. That's something competitive 40-foot units can't say."

Other standard features on the RT40 include heavy-duty walking tandem caster gauge wheels, easy depth control adjustment, a hydraulic hitch jack and a RollFlex accumulator system. The unit requires tractor horsepower ratings of 500 or more to operate.

Visit for more information.



Published in Seeding/Planting

May 27, 2016, Ontario – Corn planting is nearly complete in Ontario, and soybean planting isn't far behind, according to the latest field crop report from OMAFRA. 

Planted acreage across the province is at about 90 per cent complete, with exception of some of the heavier soils in Essex and Lambton counties yet to be planted. Most of the corn acreage has emerged and is at the spike to first-leaf over stage with the most advanced corn at the two-leaf over stage. Corn has recovered from the frost injury of 10 days ago.

Some pre-side-dress nitrogen testing (PSNT) will begin next week (see Table 1, Nitrogen Recommendations Based on Nitrate-Nitrogen on Early soil nitrate testing has shown higher than expected soil nitrate levels considering the cool, dry weather thus far this spring.

Winter wheat is at the Zadok 37 to 55 (flag-leaf half emerged to head half emerged) stage, looking good in most areas of the province. Stripe rust infection spread last week from the southwest (Windsor to London) to Huron (Exeter) and Bruce County (Walkerton). Fields with strip rust tolerant varieties or were sprayed early at the T1 stage, have less pressure. Higher nighttime temperatures should slow the development and spread of strip rust (optimum 10 C to 20 C). Growers should continue to scout their fields and if stripe rust is a problem, growers should spray immediately but be aware of wheat stage. Once the wheat reaches boot stage (Zadoks 45), the application of products containing a strobilurin fungicide may increase the amount of mycotoxins in the grain.  

As we approach the flowering stage (Zadok’s 59), the use of a T3 fungicide to control Fusarium head blight will also control many leaf diseases, such as stripe rust. Weather forecast and DONcast may assist to best co-ordinate need for FHB fungicide application at flowering.

Spring Cereals are now in the tillering stage (Zadok 26 to 30). Many annual weeds have emerged and growers should consider spraying.

Soybean planting about 80 per cent complete across the province, with the exception of only about 50 per cent planted in Essex and Lambton counties. Some emergence concerns in the drier areas on the lighter soils, particularly east of the 400 where soybeans were planted into dry soil.

Winter cereal rye is head half emerged stage. Forage quality drops rapidly as the crop matures past this stage.

Orchard grass is headed now and alfalfa is at the early bud stage. A few growers have begun harvest planning to take four cuts this season. Stands with a higher percentage of orchardgrass in the forage mix should be cut soon as quality drops rapidly as the orchardgrass matures.

Most of the planting is now complete. Conditions for emergence have been good. Flea beetle damage has been reported. Fields should be scouted now. This is also the time to set up monitoring traps for swede midge. The adult emergence peak is end of May to mid June. See infosheet for more information. 

Edible beans
The planting of Azuki Beans started this past weekend. Edible bean growers will be planting this week. Remember to plant to moisture under the dry soil conditions.

Weed control
Management of weeds will become the next priority in corn and soybeans if no pre-emergence herbicides have been applied. In soybeans, scout for weeds at around 10-14 days after planting because many annual weeds will be starting to emerge. Be mindful of environmental conditions at the time of applying post emergent herbicides that would increase the risk of off-target spray drift. In general off-target drift can be reduced when an applicator:

• sprays when wind speeds are light to moderate and moving away from the any nearby sensitive crop
• uses nozzles having the coarsest effective droplet size that will still achieve effective pest control
• reduces the distance between nozzle and target

Go to  for more specific details about sprayer modification to reduce the risk of off-target drift to sensitive high value crops.

Published in Desiccants
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