Tractors delivered participants to more than 10 sites at the 23rd annual Southwest Crop Diagnostic Day. The event, which took place July 5 and 6, saw agronomists, producers and industry professionals visiting stations across the University of Guelph’s Ridgetown campus to learn about new research and the implications for crops in Ontario.
Here’s a sampling of some of the topics covered.
Albert Tenuta [Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA)] and Dave Hooker [University of Guelph – Ridgetown (UGR)] took producers through a few different plot sites and discussed planting corn and soybeans in a cover crop. Although cover crops help with soil organic matter, erosion and moisture control, it’s often best to terminate a cover crop in a dry year.
Peter Sikkema and Darren Robinson (both from UGR) tested participants on herbicide injury in both corn and soybean, respectively. Producers saw first-hand the symptoms caused by new and common herbicides.
Peter Sikkema holding a corn plant injured by herbicides.
Chris Brown (OMAFRA) and Doug Young (UGR) did a smoke bomb demo to highlight soil pores and offered tips for managing water movement through soil. Producers were reminded that soil pores (which include macropores, mesopores and micropores) are impacted by different issues such as soil properties (texture, pH), cultivation (tile drainage, crop rotations), external loads (tillage and compaction) and natural processes (biological activity, frost).
Joanna Follings and Anne Verhallen (both from OMAFRA) talked cover crop seeding rates and options for growers. They highlighted research that indicates underseeding red clover into winter wheat leads to an increase of 10 bushels per acre (bu/ac) for corn and five bu/ac in soybean.
One of the plots of red clover planted at UGR.
There’s also a nitrogen credit of 85 pounds per acre. Follings offered tips for seeding, since the biggest challenge with red clover is establishment. (A uniform stand of three to four plants per square foot is the minimum number to be considered a good stand.)
Another session offered an overview of trapping technology, scouting tips and management strategies for Western bean cutworm presented by Christina DiFonzo (Michigan State University), Tracey Baute (OMAFRA) and Art Schaafsma (UGR).
The Z Trap is one of the newest Western bean cutworm traps on the market.
When scouting, DiFonzo says to look at 100 plants (10 plants in 10 different areas, or 20 plants in five areas) every five days when crop is in the pre- to full tassel stages. The threshold to spray is an accumulation of five per cent of plants with Western bean cutworm egg masses or small larvae over a two to three week period.
Dave Bilyea (UGR) covered some lesser-known but potentially problematic weeds for Ontario agriculture. Some of the weeds highlighted include annual bluegrass (which competes with young plants and is tolerant to glyphosate) and dog strangling vine. There aren’t many reports of this vine yet, but it’s very competitive and is toxic to insects and animals, affecting ecology. Another weed to watch is wild parsnip, which makes skin UV-sensitive and results in burns similar to those caused by giant hogweed. With scouring rush (also known as snakegrass), part of the challenge is that the plant has no leaves for contact with any herbicides producers might spray.
Dave Bilyea explains the similarities between Northern willowherb and goldenrod.
Bilyea reminded growers that they can send in weeds for herbicide-resistance testing free of charge.
Jake Munroe and Horst Bohner (both of OMAFRA) focused on fertilizing soybeans: deficiency symptoms, strategies and new research demonstrating the importance of phosphorus in soybean. 4R nutrient stewardship was also highlighted using the Phosphorus Loss Assessment Tool for Ontario (PLATO).
Ben Rosser (OMAFRA) and Peter Johnson from Real Agriculture had participants digging up corn plants from a variety of plots to discuss the effects of planting dates, depth and staging.
Peter Johnson from Real Agriculture discussing the stages of corn development.
Hail damage in corn was also discussed using the example of a corn plant damaged just a couple of weeks ago. Although the farmer growing the corn in question thought he should plant something else, there was still new growth in the corn and so he was advised to leave the crop; he would likely only suffer a five per cent yield loss from the hail damage.
Jason Deveau and Mike Cowbrough (both of OMAFRA) highlighted the importance of sprayer clean out and compared two different systems: triple rinsing and continuous rinsing.
Deveau and Cowbrough explaining how a continuous rinse system works.
Growers walked through soybean and tomato plots and saw the level of injury caused when equipment isn’t properly rinsed between spray applications. Although triple rinsing is effective, it takes three times longer to do; the continuous rinse system is not only faster, but also limits operator exposure. The current challenge is adding the pump on the sprayer equipment due to challenges with the computer operating systems.
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We regularly evaluate all aspects of our business. As part of these activities, we have recently taken the decision to exit the canola seed business. We are no longer selling or promoting our canola hybrids. We will, however, continue to support our existing canola seed portfolio through 2017 seeding and our programs and in-field product support, as per their terms and conditions. This decision is a business decision and we will work with all relevant parties to facilitate an orderly transition.
Early planted winter wheat continues to look better than Thanksgiving wheat. The cool, wet weather has slowed the rate of wheat development to five to seven days ahead of normal. Most of the crop is at the flag leaf stage, however crop development ranges from 1st node to heads emerging. Cooler, wet conditions have continued to keep disease pressure relatively low, but have also resulted in parts of some fields turning yellow (wet feet). Some 1st and 2nd applications of nitrogen are still being applied. Aerial applications of nitrogen are being considered on heavy clay soils in the Niagara area. Yield loss has not been observed in the past when similar conditions occurred. If sulphur deficiency showing, apply now.
Septoria leaf spot and powdery mildew are the most common diseases and primarily situated in the lower canopy but on some susceptible varieties moving up. Keep scouting but in most fields fungicide can wait for T3 timing at heading. Leaf rust is has been identified in some fields. Stripe rust over the past week has been found in Oxford, Chatham-Kent, Elgin and Bruce counties; but at low levels. The disease is not moving as fast as last year.
Early planted fields have emerged while planting continues as field conditions allow.
As of May 17, corn planting in Ontario is at about 30 percent completed; however there are several areas where wet soils have prevented planting, or where rain has slowed planting. Earliest April planted corn is at the 2 leaf stage but most early planted corn is struggling to emerge. The calendar is pushing some planting to occur into soils that are wetter than ideal.
Planting date and yield potential research (U of Guelph, Deen and Hooker) shows that 95 percent of potential corn yield can be achieved at Elora where corn is planted May 20; at Exeter where corn is planted May 25 and Ridgetown where corn is planted May 30.
With the increase in cover crop biomass, watch for black cutworm as corn starts to emerge and through early corn growth. Larvae will cut off the plant just below ground level and patches of affected plants will appear wilted from hollowed out stems. Cutworm larvae can be found near affected plants below the soil surface.
A few fields of soybeans have been planted, but planted acres will increase quickly with forecast warmer temperatures and ideal soil conditions. Soybeans planted three weeks ago are knuckling but have not emerged. Monitor slow to emerge fields for seedcorn maggot damage, especially where manure or cover crops have been incorporated.
Planting of spring canola is in full swing with approximately 20 percent of intended acres planted. Winter canola fields are in bloom.
Fall cover crop growth exceeded expectations, resulting in some fields with higher volumes of residue to manage. Soils can be slower to dry, or where cover crops are still growing, they can reduce soil moisture in the top few inches of soil resulting in conditions that are more difficult to plant into.
Forage and Pasture
Cereal Rye fields are being harvested as a forage crop with higher than expected yields. Alfalfa forage crops are still short, but a few warm days will make a big difference in growth. A few fields have been harvested due to shortage of feed or rotation to corn. Dairy first cut will begin the last week of May. Although there have not been reports of alfalfa weevil damage, scouting for leaf feeding and where found, scheduling earlier harvest, is important.
When growing IP soybeans, a preemergence herbicide program is preferred as it has typically provided the best weed control and return on investment in University of Guelph trials. As the season progresses, some producers may decide to plant first and worry about weed control later. A stretch of windy or rainy weather can easily take you out of that preemergence window. Timing of postemergence herbicides in IP soybeans is critical since control is significantly reduced once weeds get beyond the 6 leaf stage of growth. Traditionally, the ideal timing of postemergence herbicide applications have been around three weeks after planting with scouting for weeds beginning at 10-14 days after planting.
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.”
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.”
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SeedMaster Crop TourWed Jul 26, 2017
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