Ridgetown Agbiz Breakfast Minutes, June 4, 2013

Synopsis: Note next meeting location change below.  WET and COLD! Frost hit the area the mornings of May 25 to 27 causing damage to corn, tomatoes, wheat and soybeans. Dry soils made affected areas more susceptible to the frost.  Rainfall came following the frost: the first significant rain in over a month for some areas.   Ridgetown received just over 2″, Glencoe up to 4.5″, Lambton 4″ and West Elgin 2.25 to 3.5″. Rainfall intensity was severe in some locations: unacceptable soil erosion resulted.  While the frost was worse where more residue existed, the erosion reinforces the need to have at least 30% residue after planting. The rain was desperately needed to germinate soybeans planted in dry soil. The winter wheat crop looks good. Corn fields are weedy and it will be impossible for the sprayers to cover all the ground they need to in a timely fashion. Crop heat units accumulations are falling behind.

Corn: A large acreage of corn was damaged with the frost. The majority of this is minor damage and these fields are already greening up. The corn in an area from Highgate to Bothwell was the hardest hit. At least 1000 acres were replanted. Dry sand knolls and low muck areas planted before May 5th were hardest hit. Damage was more severe with more crop residue: but the benefit the residue provides in preventing soil erosion and preserving the long term productivity of the soil out weighs the risk. Many frost damaged plants are showing the typical “shepherds hook”. These plants are now smaller than unaffected plants. There was some discussion about whether these plants would be delayed enough and not contribute to yield. Experience has shown that they will outgrow it and be productive, although not as productive as unaffected plants.

A lot of fields are very weedy. These fields need to be sprayed now! The fields with residual herbicides are much better off. Even though control is not 100%, weed escapes are much smaller and less competitive than weeds in unsprayed fields. The cold temperatures followed by the rain and high winds have kept the sprayers out of the fields. The seed corn crop looks good. Planting was halted for awhile as it was too dry. About 60% of the crop is planted.

Nitrogen Survey: The annual nitrogen survey conducted by OMAF is taking place the week of June 3. Soil nitrate samples are taken from across the province to assess nitrogen levels from year to year. The results can be found at fieldcropnews.com June 7.

Wheat: Helicopters and ground rigs have been spraying fusarium fungicides for the last few days. Wheat fields will carry better than other fields giving an opportunity to get this done before corn and soybean fields are dry enough to travel. DONCAST went from yellow to green over the weekend because the average temperatures in the 3 to 10 day forecast  predicted average temperatures below 15C. Turbo Flood Jet or forward/back nozzles are the only two nozzle configurations in the “best” category. Leaf disease control gives more yield benefit than the fusarium benefit.  Leaf disease pressure is low, although mildew is beginning to develop and a few fields in the Niagara region has significant disease levels.

The wheat crop is short this year. Armyworm were reported near threshold at Harrow. Other reports are of only a few armyworms. A high population of aphids were found in a winter wheat field near Wallaceburg. A few wheat fields near Thamesville were frozen severely enough they will have to be replanted. In other fields only a few heads or parts of heads were damaged. The winter wheat harvest date will likely be closer to normal this year.

Soybeans: In some areas 10 to 15% of the crop is still to be planted. The recent rains were welcome to help emergence of the crop, especially those planted in dry soil. Pounding rains in Lambton resulted in some replanting. If you have a 36″ hula hoop for population counts you multiply the number of plants in the hula hoop by 6,165 (page 268, Agronomy Guide). Can soybeans be aerial seeded into winter wheat? It has been done successfully but expect a crop only 3 years out of 10.  Smaller seeded species will work much better. (Grow canola?? :))

Forages: Lots of hay is being cut. Yields range from excellent to mediocre. Growers have been spraying for alfalfa weevil in the Niagara area along the lake. Oats and peas for forage are two weeks away from harvest.

Agricorp: 31% of the tomato crop suffered frost damaged and about 8% of the acres were replanted. Plants were brought in from the U.S. for replant. About a third of the crop is still to be planted. Sugarbeet stands look good and only one field was replanted. 18% of Chatham-Kent corn acres were affected, 10% in Lambton, with damage reports in Middlesex, Elgin, Huron and Essex as well.  Under 2% of soybean acres were affected, and less than 1% of wheat acres have damage reports to date.  Replant benefit payments are $111/acre for corn and $80/ac for soybeans.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Helmut: Helmut Spieser, OMAF ag engineer at Ridgetown (sprayer and grain drying guru) and a regular ag breakfast attendee, , suffered a stroke on May 23. He is recovering in hospital and we wish him a speedy recovery.

Diagnostic Days:  July 3 and 4, Ridgetown Campus, University of Guelph. For more information visit www.diagnosticdays.ca

Next Meeting: Ridgetown Campus, University of Guelph, Meet for breakfast at 7am in Wilson Hall cafeteria, meeting at 7:30am followed at 8:30 by a one hour tour of leading edge research plots with Peter Sikkema and others.

Questions or comments? Contact Adam Hayes adam.hayes@ontario.ca or Peter Johnson peter.johnson@ontario.ca