Simcoe Agribusiness Breakfast Minutes, April 11, 2012

GENERAL: The relatively mild winter and early start to the spring season means that there will be a re-evaluation of many “normal” practices.  Early break of dormancy for forage, wheat and tree crops, opportunity for early application (or split application) of nitrogen to wheat crops, germination of many weeds, and more tillage than previous years are some of the observations/activities to date.

Thick chickweed pressure is causing concern.  Refine is the herbicide of choice for control.  Fall conditions did not allow for burndown of the weeds; scouting will be essential for cutworm damage that often results from egg laying into thick chickweed stands.  Stink weed, fleabane, dandelions and wild carrot are all off to an early start.

WHEAT/SMALL GRAINS: Wheat (and rye) stands in Norfolk (light soils) came through the winter in excellent condition.  All nitrogen has been applied.  Disease levels remain low.  On heavier clay soils, there are wet areas within fields that suffered winter kill, however few have been destroyed to date.  Fields without starter fertilizer are especially thin.  Many fields have been reseeded (into living wheat) with spring wheat, oats or barley.  80% of wheat on clays has all or 1st split nitrogen applied.  The remaining 20% will be applied this week.  Nitrogen application to most fields was at least 100 lbs actual N (many split applications 30-40/60-70).  There has been more local interest in agrotain due to the early N application and fear of losses.  Based on crop colour, N availability has been ideal to date.  Some wheat damage occurred from 28% N applied with streamer nozzles ahead of a cold night.  Same damage has occurred where herbicides were applied before cold nights. Fungicide application has not started.  More red clover than other years was inter-seeded into wheat stands.  Early season, dry soil conditions and thin stands are all reasons for this increase.   Spring grain acreage is up (especially in livestock areas) and planted in timely conditions with much of the new crop emerging.  The need for straw is the primary reason.  Acres intended for cover crop are also up – based partly on the many presentations at grower meetings this past winter.

FORAGES: New seedings are planted and have emerged in some areas.   In established fields, early growth followed by frost March 30th has resulted in significant crop damage.  New growth is coming from auxiliary buds and crowns.  Temperatures were not as cold in “the south”, but damage is evident.  Depending on conditions during the next few weeks, it is anticipated that 1st harvest will be back to normal dates.  Lower root reserves may impact yields.  Yields may be lower in fields harvested during last fall’s critical harvest period, especially if fertility levels (particularly potash) are low.

CORN:  No significant acreage has been planted to date south of the 401.  Producers on heavy clay soils are afraid of risking long interval of planting to emergence with potential rain and crusting.  Planting into ideal soil conditions last year was advantageous with respect to yield. Tillage operations (in some cases recreational tillage) have been in full swing.  Ruts left from wet conditions last spring and fall are being amended with vertical tillage equipment.  Soil conditions for incorporating spring applied manure have been perfect so far.

New strategies for weed control are being discussed in light of early weeds, no planted crop, good soil conditions and glyphosate resistant Fleabane (confirmed in Elgin and Niagara).  With cool frosty nights, no herbicide application has been recommended to corn so far.  Recommendation consensus from group not to “cheap out” on burndown herbicides and tank mixes this year in light of high weed pressure, herbicide resistance issues, and potential for weeds to attract egg laying insect pests.  Scouting fields for weed escapes is critical with resisant weeds becoming more prevalent.

Seed supplies for top varieties are in tight supply, especially where WBC has been an issue in the past few years.  There is seed available for replanting if required on a regional basis.  Un-committed acres tend to be leaning toward soybean crops given recent crop prices.

Tom Cowan is replacing Tracey Baute as Field crop Entomologist for the summer months out of Ridgetown 519-674-1696   Tom is on a secondment from his position as the Pesticides Specialist with the Ministry of Environment (London Regional Office).  Tom has a strong background in integrated pest management.    Tom will be taking the lead on several projects and scouting programs including those involving the Western Bean Cutworm and the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug.


  • Production insurance on all spring seeded crops needs to be in place by May 1. Call Agricorp at 888-247-4999 between 7 am and 5 pm, Monday through Friday.
  • Production insurance coverage for early planted corn is under consideration and may be based on a case-by-case basis
  • Winter wheat not insured last fall can still be insured if requested by May 1 and will be accepted based on inspection. Winterkill coverage will not be available on these acres.
  • Eligibility for RMP (risk management program) – all grains and oilseeds must be offered for Production Insurance to maintain eligibility for RMP. This includes all winter wheat acres planted prior to the November 1 deadline or planted after the deadline.

Next meeting – Wednesday, April 25, 2012  7:30 am – Little River Best Western – Simcoe