Issues this year will be managing temperature in furrow, and wet soils. A comparison of soil temperatures at 2 and 4” deep in Lampton county over the past 5 years (courtesy of Geoff Smith of Agricorp) shows snowmelt followed by cold temperatures caused a notable drop in mid-March. Given that soils are saturated, will further slow their warming. While some growers are inquiring about hybrid switching, large producers and seed companies are not yet making that decision.
Wheat survival is better than some earlier predictions. It is looking good on the lighter soils of Norfolk and Elgin. In other areas, there is lots of brown wheat e.g. low ground, some snowmould, and some still ice-covered to the north. Survival on about 10 % is undecided until next week. Agricorp have had 10,500 ac of damage reports; they will be inspecting in 2 to 3 weeks. Lack of soil heaving in forage crops provides optimism for over-winter survival. In west Norfolk, most of the clover overseeding into wheat is done; in other areas it is about 70% complete. The window on whether it makes sense to split apply N on wheat is closing. Opportunities to frost seed grains have been very limited. Specialty crops normally planted by this time of year in Norfolk are not. Transplants imported from southern US are delayed due to cooler conditions there as well.
Herbicide resistance is a perennial issue. Glyphosate resistant flea bane is getting worse and where there is a population, it should be assumed resistant. The herbicide input cost for growing conventional soybeans is no longer 2 applications of glyphosate. Kiksor in the tank mix has the advantage of having no wait time to plant. One caution is that it can be volatile and move. Increased herbicide cost on conventional soybeans makes Identity Preserved more competitive, acreage is up, and seed supply may be an issue.
Deadlines to apply for most crop insurance programs are May 1. Premiums are down this year and there will be a premium refunds with 2013 claims. While it is important to call in damage reports, growers should wait until they can see the crop (e.g. wheat under snow). The forage rainfall program has changed e.g., calculation methods.
Manure application on snow has been an issue this winter, especially in the context of rising phosphorus concentrations in Lake Erie. Growers are urged to think about consequences to water quality and potential future regulations, and are encouraged to take advantage of cost share programs currently available for erosion control. Fortunately, snowmelt has been gradual, and rivers like the Thames and Grand are relatively clear for this time of year.
As a result of the recent introduction of the Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus (PEDv) to Ontario, pork producers have additional challenges and considerations when applying manure. All pork producers can be impacted by PEDv and should be aware of the risks, and the appropriate precautions and biosecurity measures; however, it is also important for others involved in agricultural operations (i.e. custom nutrient or herbicide application) to have an understanding of how this specific virus is spread and the impact that it can have for the pork industry.
The following are a few suggestions and precautions that were part of a recent factsheet. Custom applicators of fertilizer and pesticides should consider a few of the precautions for fields where hog manure has been applied.
- Manure on roadways, barn yards, equipment or clothes can be enough to spread PEDv. Avoid manure on surfaces that could transfer the virus to another pig farm.
- When visiting a hog farm, change clothes and wash/disinfect boots
- Custom applicators should avoid scheduling pig farms one after the other and if possible, spread manure from various livestock operations in rotation (swine, dairy, etc).
- Consider applying manure inter-row after the corn is up to take advantage of higher temperatures to help reduce the virus lifespan. (warm temperatures and ultraviolet light. In a US study, the virus survived about 14 days at ~24° C)
- During field application incorporate manure uniformly into the soil profile where possible.
- Fully cover manure with soil by managing incorporation/injection equipment and application rates to avoid manure boiling up in the injection slot and leaking onto headlands.
- Surface applied manure that is not incorporated is a risk because domestic animals, wildlife and birds can carry virus to previously unaffected locations. Custom fertilizer and pesticide applications can also move the virus on tires and dust particles. This risk is higher in areas where hog farms are more numerous.