Synopsis: Very little field work has been done to date. There is still frost in the ground below 4” especially where there are significant crop residues present. The snow melted without any significant rainfall so there was very little ponding of water on wheat and very little freeze thaw. 50 to 75% of the unseeded winter wheat acres will go to soybeans depending on the area and the rest will go to corn. As a result, corn acres may be up 3 to 4% this year and soy acres up 6-8%.
Winter wheat: Generally the winter wheat crop is looking good. The late planted wheat, late October early November, emerged in December in the southwest and looks good. The late wheat still hasn’t emerged in the Middlesex area. Earlier wheat where the tile runs could be seen in the fall may not be in very good shape. Healthy white roots are an indication the wheat is alive. Application of nitrogen and red clover is behind normal. In south Lambton only 25% of the intended acreage was planted. In the Dover area 80% of winter wheat acres were planted. An estimated 600,000 acres of winter wheat were planted in fall 2014, 800,000 were planted in the fall of 2013 with 675,000 harvested. Straw will be at a premium.
Virtually no early N has been applied to wheat. With no growth to speak of to date, little has been lost. Early N applications are a concern on frozen soil if rainfall occurs. Movement of N then becomes an issue. Only single cut red clover should be underseeded into late planted wheat to reduce problems at harvest. Red clover stands have been better where sulphur was applied to wheat. Sulphur response in winter wheat is greater in cool wet springs. Apply 10 lbs S/acre (40 lbs/ac of ammonium sulphate or 3 gallons of ammonium thiosulphate). As nitrogen rates increase in winter wheat red clover stands decrease. Regular rains are needed to maintain red clover in the wheat crop. The growth regulator Manipulator is now registered in Ontario. The active ingredient is chlormequat chloride (same as Cycocel). It has a fit on spring wheat in eastern Ontario and early planted wheat with high nitrogen rates.
Winter wheat is a very important crop: increased yield of other crops and improved soil health (Hooker, U of G). Including winter wheat in the rotation needs to be a priority. Plant soybeans early, plant shorter season soybeans and get the wheat in.
Cover crops: More growers are considering planting cover crops after doing some tillage on their wheat stubble this summer. What are the advantages of red clover versus cover crop radish? Red clover is still a very good option as it can be applied at a less busy time of the year, it is relatively cheap and easy to seed, a good stand can provide 80 kg/ha nitrogen credit to the following corn crop, has a fibrous root system and it will produce more biomass than most cover crops planted after wheat. It can be insured but the program limits replant or patching until the 1st of September and there is a 20% deductible. Oats, radish and multi-species mixes are also an option. The nitrogen credit following a multi-mix with legumes in it has not been determined. Radish is a very leaky plant: it will take up a lot of nitrogen but most of it will be lost before the crop can use it. A 99% reduction in weed seed production was seen where there was a good red clover stand or cover crop. Some crimson clover has overwintered but the stand will be reduced. The snow cover will have helped it to survive but the recent freeze thaw may have killed more. Do NOT frost seed crimson clover.
Glyphosate resistant weeds: Glyphosate resistant Canada fleabane has now been found from Essex county to Glengarry county. It has spread 800 km in just 4 years! Fleabane is already actively growing. Glyphosate resistant waterhemp has been found in the northwest corner of Kent county in a number of fields. Glyphosate resistant common ragweed is present in Essex county and will likely soon be confirmed in Kent county.
Weed research: Peter Sikkema is pleasantly surprised by the number of new active ingredients in his weed control trials this year. However, they are all within existing herbicide groupings.
Weed control in winter wheat: Peter Sikkema’s research indicates that Infinity is the best herbicide to control fleabane in winter wheat as it provides good control and is easy on the wheat. 2,4-D will cause some injury to the wheat. Target is not recommended on wheat as research has shown up to a 20 bu/ac yield loss. If red clover has been underseeded in the wheat, 0.4 L/ac MCPA Ester after harvest will wilt the clover temporarily but not kill it, and will prevent the fleabane from going to seed. Fleabane management should begin in the fall, with glyphosate and Eragon preplant or preemerge, or Infinity post emerge in the fall, if the burndown is not possible. Refine is not recommended in wheat if red clover has been underseeded.
Weed control in soybeans: Weed control in soybeans: 2,4-D Ester is safe to use as part of a burndown ahead of soybeans. Some injury may be seen but it will not have an impact on yield. A sunny day after the application can reduce the injury. The 2,4-D amine form is not safe to use. There is renewed interest in methylated seed oil (MSO) as an additive. Herbicide companies do a tremendous amount of research on the best surfactants: the surfactant on the label will provide the best weed control and crop safety. To control fleabane ahead of soybeans glyphosate + Eragon + Sencor is the best option followed by glyphosate + Eragon +2,4-D Ester. If dandelion, wild carrot and giant ragweed are present then the tank mix with 2,4-D Ester is better as the Eragon can burn those weeds too fast and reduce their control.
Processing crops: Tomato acreage is up 12% over last year. These contracts will go to some of the better former Heinz growers. Sugarbeet acreage will be similar to last year. They just finished slicing the 2014 crop 10 to 12 days ago. There was minimal loss to spoilage. The cold weather helped to preserve the beets in the piles. The cost of renting bees for pollination of squash and pumpkins has increased 80%. Are they needed? There needs to be enough squash bees to pollinate the crop as honey bees do not prefer pumpkins and squash. Consider an incremental decrease in bees and monitor populations.
Breakfast was provided courtesy of the St Clair Region Soil and Crop Improvement Association
April 21, 7:30 am, Willson Hall, University of Guelph, Ridgetown Campus, 120 Main St. East. Ridgetown.
July 8 & 9, 2015 – Southwest Crop Diagnostic Days, www.diagnosticdays.ca University of Guelph, Ridgetown Campus
January 5 & 6, 2016 – Southwest Agricultural Conference www.southwestagconference.ca University of Guelph, Ridgetown Campus
Field Crop Protection Guide 2014-2015, OMAFRA Publication 812 ($15 + tax) and 2015 Supplement (free)
Revised Pasture Production, OMAFRA Publication 19 ($10 + tax)
2015 Field Crop Budgets, OMAFRA Publication 60 (free)
Soil Fertility Handbook, OMAFRA Publication 611, REDUCED PRICE ($20 + tax)
Available at the OMAFRA Resource Centre, 120 Main St. E., Ridgetown, order on-line at www.ServiceOntario.ca/publications or call 1-800-668-9938
Cover Crops Field Guide 2nd Edition ($5 tax included) – available only at the OMAFRA Resource Centre, 120 Main St. E., Ridgetown