Simcoe Ag Breakfast Minutes, May 9th 2012

Highlights:  Planting progress on clay soils, crop germination and emergence, forage management, cutworm scouting, wheat staging and herbicide/fungicide application, problem weeds,

While corn planting is essentially completed in many areas north of 401, to the south and into the Niagara area corn progress well over half to finishing up on the lighter soils and emergence is generally issue free. Corn can be rowed in early planted fields and weeds are growing very fast and in some cases pre- emerge herbicides applied early are starting to break.  A few fields planted in mid April in wet soils have reported emergence problems, but this is rare compared to last year.  Although the heavy clay soils have worked nicer than in past 10 years, recent consecutive half-inch showers have prevented many from starting to plant.  Growers that started planting in April are done, while those waiting for slightly warmer soil temperatures are now waiting for a few rain free days.  The Niagara area has less than 30% corn acreage planted to date.  There has been very little switching of acres to date, but wheat acres that didn’t survive the winter are generally being planned for soybeans.

Soybean planted has started just in the past few days with planted acreage on the lighter soils ranging from 15-20% planted and most will be done planting by end of the week. There are essentially no beans planted on the heavy clay soils yet.

Wheat north of hwy 3 looks its best in a long time with most fields at elongation to penultimate leave stage and most advanced fields at early flag leaf.  Manganese deficiency in wheat is showing up in some fields, especially on sandier soils.  Powdery mildew is also present in some advanced fields and current weather (12 to 22 C) is ideal for disease progression.    Scouting is important .  Many growers are planning a fungicide/herbicide application followed by a heading fungicide application.  Fields with have a range of growth stages –  when and how late can they be sprayed?  Recommendation for herbicide/fungicide applications in cold weather or where applied to higher growth stages is “always 20 gallons of water and nozzle selection that avoids concentrated droplets.  South of highway 3 had more rain last fall which resulted in fall wheat rotting thus not surviving the spring glyphosphate application this spring. Fields that had killed out spots filled in with spring wheat are processing well.  Red clover seedings are also coming along well in heavier soils and could become aggressive in thin areas of wheat stands.

Spring cereals are progressing well.  Pre-plan now to apply fungicides to these crops, especially to oats to prevent rust.  A fungicide application will make better straw (20% more) – a $12 investment for double or more return.  Half-rate fungicide will give 1 wk protection and is not recommended.

More alfalfa and spring grains were planted than in past 10 years and newly emerged stands looks great so far.  Hay yields 1st cut yields will be reduced substantially.  Low hay inventories means most poor stands will probably be left in production.  Weak alfalfa stands have given dandelions the upper hand in many fields.  Not much can be done now to control dandelions in any crop; fall season is the best time to control dandelions.   To maximize the season long forage production, 1st cut should be left as long as possible to build root reserves.

For fields where plants have heaved, it is important to keep header heights up.  Alfalfa weevil has been found in low levels in some areas; scouting is important,

Other crops update:  Fumigation has started for tobacco producers.  Peas are planted and have emerged well.  Early cabbage, cucumbers, tomatoes all up and through plastic – these crops look good and came through frost well.

Weeds:  Blue grass coming into fields – near sod farms – less tillage, too much RU and not enough atrazine.  Silky bent grass also becoming a problem.  Fall management is the key for some of these weeds and more diverse herbicide problems.  Growers need to think about fall herbicides options for wheat crops – especially where there are issues with dandelions and chickweed.  Open falls means a longer time frame.

No insect issues so far.  Cut worm populations could be high this year – scouting should begin now for cutworm damage (eggs laid in high organic matter and green fields i.e. those that had a lot of chickweed earlier on).

Next meeting: Wednesday May 30, 2012 at Little River Best Western in Simcoe