Ridgetown Agbiz Breakfast Minutes, May 21, 2013

Synopsis: DRY! Excellent planting progress with corn finished and beans ranging 70% +. Small % corn seedlings showing abnormal/poor germ.  Soil conditions EXTREMELY poor on heavy clays with excessive April rain (Lambton, Elgin).  Excellent tillage discussion, with divergent viewpoints.  Disappointment with uptake of proper burndown herbicide combinations in light of glyphosate resistant weeds.  Advanced wheat is heading: fusarium fungicide timing imminent. Tiny bit of frost injury across the region.  Alfalfa weevil populations above threshold.  Thanks to all those that attended.

Wheat:  Most wheat looks EXCELLENT, but late wheat is disappointing.  The crop will be short.  Wheat flag leaves are spiking from lack of water.  Lots of late herbicide/fungicide applications in wheat causing significant burn.  The value of weed control at this stage is extremely limited, and growers should rethink if it is worth it: the damage is done.  Lots of N and S  deficiencies showing, giving rise to “rainbow” wheat.  Early N applications have suffered significant loss, late N applications have had no rain for activation, with only a 2 day “sweet spot” for N applications in between.  Late N applications are showing every streamer bar with 28%, and are still quite N deficient with urea.  Past sins are becoming obvious as dry weather continues.  Lots of corn row syndrome showing, compaction, micronutrient deficiencies, etc.  Clover is suffering.

Corn: Early corn emerged in 8 days, later corn is taking 2 weeks with cooler temperatures.  Corn is greening up rapidly after emergence and stands look good.  There appears to be about 5% of seedlings in many different seed lots (across companies) that have poor germ/vigour.  Plants have good root development but no or very slow shoot development.

Soybeans: Range from 70% to 95% planted, although some individual growers have not yet started (felt soil conditions unfit).  Some beans have been planted 1″ into dry dirt.  Get beans into moisture  ( up to 3″) or the results will be disappointing.  (Quote for seed and seeding depth: “you can get it up, but you can’t push it down” once it is in the ground). Early beans are at the unifoliate stage and look good.

Forages: Well managed hay fields appear to have excellent yield potential, and harvest will begin in earnest this weekend or next week.  Alfalfa weevil has been found at high levels in Elgin County and the Niagara Peninsula.  2-3 per stem, or 40% leaf tip feeding means either immediate harvest or control is warranted.  The PHI for Matador and generics is 3 days.  Poorly managed fields are struggling  clearly the tonnage from the last cut in the fall just comes right out of the first cut this spring.

Rye for forage has been harvested, with many growers very pleased with amount and quality of the product.

Weed Control: Grave disappointment over the lack of grower uptake of tankmix products for glyphosate resistant weed management.  This is partly due to the cost, and partly due to “days to plant” restrictions.  Despite the 2,4-D label of 7 days, no yield loss was found in research trials when applied the day of planting (some leaf distortoin was noted).  Cost is small versus the cost of poor weed control and no effective rescue products.  Continue to promote burndown tankmix options.  Growers seem to have lost the management skill for burndowns versus planting.

Conventional herbicide issues are starting to be reported with lack of rainfall.  Generally, 2 leaf weeds are escapes from soil applied herbicides.

Drift reports are just starting to come in, but given windy conditions may be a big problem this year.  Fall weed control trials are showing excellent results.  Report of a failure of a slightly below label rate of glyphosate mixed with MangoPhos.  Remember that antagonism with Mn is common, and glyphosate rates need to be kept up if tankmixing.

Tillage: Heavy clay soils have gone extremely hard and are difficult to make a seedbed out of.  “It takes 4 passes to no-till soys” was the quip.  Some in the group felt that the problem was tillage of any nature, as all the talk about 260 bu corn residue requiring some form of tillage has not become reality.  Older no-till equipment has had no trouble cutting through residue and placing seed into moisture (some discussion here, and not total agrement!!). “Quasi” vertical tillage units have not functioned well, bringing up lumps that required multiple passes with the cultivator and roller to beat into a seedbed.  A great dislike for unit mount (“nose”) coulters was expressed by many in the group: all they do is destroy the ability for proper depth control.  Perhaps these coulters are why airbag down pressure is necessary.   The value of rollers where soil was lumpy was expressed, with a soon to be released video showing the bounce of Keeton seed firmers with residue or lumps in the field.  Trash whippers were praised, although depth control is an issue.  Chopping heads without any tillage was felt to delay planting 4 days.

Cover Crops: Water infiltration measured with an oat cover crop versus no cover crop showed tremendous improvement, with a 1″ simulated rainfall taking only 1/3 the amount of time to infiltrate.  A similar experiment with tillage radish was more difficult to assess, but the value of cover crops in this regard is extremely obvious.

Other: A few frost injury claims on tomatoes and asparagus.  Some frost reported on alfalfa.  Planting a day too early has left slots open and very poor stands, especially in sensitive crops such as sugar beets.   A few replants have resulted.  Seed corn is 50% planted.  Bee producers are reporting very poor winter survival.  There have been a few reports of bee kills in the area.  PMRA is investigating.

Diagnostic Days:  July 3/4, Ridgetown Campus, University of Guelph.

Next Meeting: 7:00 am, Tuesday June 4th, Dar’s Restaurant.