Reports from across the region indicate that the wheat crop is looking good, with minimal damage reported on sites that are imperfectly drained and areas subject to ponding.
September planted wheat is tillering nicely with later planted ground being not as far along. Fields that received higher rates of starter or manure are doing exceptionally well, whereas areas that did not get starter due to the planter running out before the end of the field are noticeable and much further behind. Some heaving is noted due to shallow planting depth.
Fields that received fall weed control look great, whereas even clean fields that weren’t sprayed are experiencing early weed pressure. Some septoria pressure was noted.
Clover went out early on the majority of fields, and much has emerged and is looking good.
Lots of nitrogen is going out, with some agronomists promoting split application. However, to date it appears fewer producers are splitting their nitrogen application than did last year. Some fields are receiving sulphur at 12lbs/ac.
CORN / SOYBEANS:
Burn down herbicide application has started and ground has been drying down quickly, although there is more rain in the forecast. Some tillage has begun on sandy soils. Although sandy ground may appear fit for planting, soil temperatures are not high enough to begin corn and soybean planting at this time.
Insecticide seed treatments were discussed. On sandy soil, an estimated 90% of soybean seed is treated with insecticides, whereas on heavy clays only approximately 25% of soybean seed is treated in the region this year. The majority of producers using treated soybean seed are opting for non-neonicotinoid options. For corn, consensus was that upwards of 90% of seed is treated, with more than half of farmers using diamides rather than neonicotinoids. Where producers were forced to reseed last year due to insect pressure, they continue to opt for treated seed.
Grubs and wireworms will be an issue where soybeans are planted into rye fields that have been torn up.
Planting equipment for soybeans was discussed. Some agronomists noted that more soybeans were lost due to planting depth than due to insect pressure in 2016, and that replant was higher on fields where drill seeders were used. More growers are opting to have a dedicated planter for soybeans, a dedicated corn planter, and a drill for wheat.
Rye is being sprayed off or will be plowed under across the region. This is being driven by low prices and a lower demand forecasted for straw.
Spring cereal planting has begun, particularly on lighter ground.
Some nitrogen has gone out on hay. Alfalfa planting has begun on sandy sites. Some agronomists are advising against manure application on alfalfa as crowns are up and susceptible to damage.
SPECIALTY / OTHER CROPS:
Apricots and cherries are in blossom in Niagara. Winter canola in the region looks good where it was planted late August, with September and October plantings being poor and dead, respectively. The later planted winter canola was likely planted too late to have enough vigour to last the winter. Winter canola in other regions has been noted as having acceptable winter survival. Asparagus crown planting has begun within the last few days. If we don’t get much rain, sweet corn planting will begin shortly. Some potato planting has begun.
Very low to no damage reports have been submitted both within the region and provincially. Producers are reminded of the May 1st deadline to enroll or change coverage for grain and oilseed acres, and to apply for unseeded acreage benefits. Red clover seeding insurance should be called in immediately.
Snow melt was not a major concern for erosion and nutrient runoff during winter due to warm temperatures and minimal accumulation. However, the long period of exposed soil has resulted in significant wind erosion on fields with minimal cover or residue. Frequent and severe rain events have caused rill erosion, which is particularly apparent in fields that were plowed parallel to the slope.
Soil samples taken from soil on snow test high in organic matter, phosphorus and potassium when compared to test values from 6” cores from the surrounding field. Producers are reminded that soil lost to erosion can be the most valuable component of the soil.