Mt. Forest Crop Consultants Agribusiness Meeting – April 19, 2016

Synopsis: The consultant’s in attendance felt that 2016 wheat acreage is up from the previous year and that while intended corn acreage will be up from the 2015 season, soybean acres will be a bit down compared to 2015. Spring cereal acreage is also thought to be down from last year but on par with 2013-14 plantings. All were surprised how much things have changed with wet snow covered fields two weekends ago and now soils almost dry enough to start working ground. While tillage ahead of corn has just started, it is expected to ramp up significantly by the weekend. There is lots of manure spreading happening and spring cereal and forage planting is well underway and into good soil conditions.

Winter Wheat and Spring Cereals: The early soybean harvest last fall and excellent planting conditions through September and October combined with a milder winter has meant that most of the crop is in excellent condition. Lots of very good wheat out there but shortly needs attention for weed control and fungicide applications. Scouting now is critical. Fertilizer applications to wheat have just begun and will ramp up rapidly by the weekend pending weather. Agricorp suggests over 800,000 acres were insured, suggesting a crop in the ground of just over one million acres.

Many have observed the “purpling” of leaf tissue otherwise known as anthocyanin buildup. This is a stress response to large fluctuations in air temperature or other stressors like saturated soils. These stressors will “back up” the cereal plants enzymatic processes associated with photosynthesis and often leads to a deficit of phosphate, throwing photosynthesis off balance and unable to deal with all of the light energy. Anthocyanins are there to protect the chlorophyll and light harvesting complexes from photo-oxidation. One could view this as a cereal plant covering itself in sunscreen to protect it from getting a bad sun-burn. This condition of anthocyanin buildup is not considered to negatively affect yield and has corrected itself with the warmer weather in the past week. A bit of frost injury has been reported but none has been deemed yield limiting. Agricorp indicated very few damage reports have been logged.

Nitrogen applications have begun but still just getting started. There is lots of discussion about whether to be doing a single application or split, and if doing one shot, is that now or in a week or two. Larger producers are leaning towards a single application because of time constraints.

Weeds have really started to come since the temperature increases this past weekend and growth is rapid so scouting to stay on top of growth stages of both weeds and the crop is important.  Chickweed, stinkweed and other winter annuals will need attention soon.

When applying herbicides to control weeds in winter wheat, the temperature just before and right after spraying wheat will often determine whether you damage wheat or not. If air temperatures range from 3 to 5 C at the time of application you may injure wheat and the extent of the injury will largely depend on the health of the crop. Injury can vary from   leaf burn to twisted plants. Research trials conducted by the University of Guelph from 2007-2009 and that purposely targeted herbicide applications to winter wheat when air temperatures approached freezing saw no impact on yield. However, to err on the side of caution, its best to wait for 48 hours after these low temperatures have occurred before you spray. The reason for this advice is that ultimately we want to limit stress to any crop and the wheat plant will metabolize the herbicide in the first few hours after application. If it is sunny and warm after spraying there is less chance of damage than if it is cool and overcast.

Lush growth this spring associated with early planted stands from last fall may have significant disease pressure so scouting and watching the weather will be important. Where fungicides are applied alone or mixed with herbicides, it is recommended to stay with higher water volumes (20 gal/ac or 200 L/ha).  This will ensure good coverage onto the leaves for disease protection and will minimize and potential “leaf burn” from herbicide and fungicide tank-mixes.

Where producers did not report their winter wheat plantings despite signing up for coverage, the coverage was cancelled and producers will have to phone or email to reinstate the coverage.

Lately its been a bit hard to move hard red wheat’s (spring and winter) since there is a glut of average protein wheat in the country. Where Ontario average protein quality wheat is often blended with high protein western wheat, the western crop last year was a bit lower in protein, offering less chances of blending  in Ontario crop to get the right recipe for the millers.

Corn: Very little if any corn planted in the coverage area of meeting participants. One test plot went in near Amberly Monday. Lots of guys scratching ground to get a feel for if its ready and are surprised at how “fit” it is. No one had checked soil temperatures yet this week, but overnight lows mean soils are likely still relatively cool. If weather holds, a lot of field work will start by this weekend. There are lots of manure being applied to field slated for corn.

A hot topic at the meeting was a discussion around the paper work required to access corn and soybean seed treated with neonicotinoid insecticides under the province’s neonicotinoid regulation. Meeting participants expressed that the paper work is onerous and confusing. Some of the larger producers have large binders full of forms and would like to see an option to process forms electronically.

Soybeans: Given the calendar date there was little focus on soybean planting, the only discussion dealt with the success of early planted winter wheat in 2015 has sparked interest in booking earlier maturing varieties with the hope of taking advantage of an earlier planting window for winter wheat. There was also discussion on the status of Xtend soybeans, which was also covered in the April 12th, Exeter meeting minutes.

Canola: There was discussion on acreage intentions. In the north it was recommended to stay out of canola for a couple of years because of the significant damage and difficulty of control of swede midge. But acerage still going in close to the Quebec border and in the Cochrane area. Pockets like Verner and neighbouring areas are doing okay with this pest to date. Rotations remain the biggest management technique for swede midge since Swede midge can survive in the soil for a couple of years and all brassicas are alternate hosts. Long crop rotations are the best management technique for dealing with this pest.

2015 saw very little flea beetle problems which for the most part removed the stall period before bolting that often is the result of high flea beetle pressure. This gave the crop a bit of a jump on swede midge by having the bolting stage occur earlier. With early plantings and where flea beetles are a constant threat, Lumiderm seed treatment should be considered. If you don’t normally spray for flea beetles this added expense is likely unwarranted. Those who choose to use Lumiderm as a seed treatment for flea beetles will be limited to only using Matador for swede midge control since the Lumiderm label indicates “Do not make a subsequent foliar application of any Group 28 insecticide (which includes Coragen) for a minimum of 60 days after planting

Agricorp: Very few damage complaints have been logged on winter wheat and too early to hear much on forages to date. Some acres of wheat that were uninsured last fall are being called in currently. Deadline is May 1st as it is for all acreage reporting.  The forage rainfall program requires producers to sign up by May 1st.

This is the 2nd year that access to the Risk Management Program without being enrolled in Agristability which many people do not recognize. There is still time to sign up this year but understand the rules. If you signup  and then decide after to pull out, you are out for 3 years. Producers are being encouraged to sign up for direct deposit online to streamline and speedup claims and premium payments. They are further encouraged to report acres online.

A new coverage category has been created for adzuki beans, which previously were covered under Japanese beans, and again, May 1st is the deadline to change category if it affects you. The premium for the dedicated adzuki bean program is better than being lumped into the other category. Agricorp has also created independent categories for oats and barley while maintaining a spring grain category as well.

Previous coverage for “unseeded acres”, where the crop was unable to be planted because of weather and soil conditions was tied to payment based on the “dominate” crop but has since changed where the producer can choose which crop to base a payout on.

Cover crops is an interesting issue and is generating discussion in Agricorp. Although it’s a positive step for soil health etc, they have to be concerned about yield losses from adding cover crops into insured crops. If a cover crop was deemed to be at fault for contributing to a damage claim and subsequent payout, they would have to assess the contribution of that to the insured loss and adjust payouts accordingly. There will be ongoing discussion about how to build cover crops into the production sytem because of all the expected benefits.

See the Agricorp website for more details on specific programs and crop coverage ( ).

Livestock: A lot of building activity has been happening in the dairy and feather sectors which has put pressure on Nutrient Management Plan approvals along with contractors. NMP submissions are up 30% this year, on top of an increase of 20% last  year. The queue is an approximate 2 month wait for a response. Source water protection plans are beginning to impact nutrient management planning. There seems to be some confusion in the process about what is “Best Management Practice” and what is “Regulation”, which is contributing to slowing down approvals.

Lots of manure pits are full to overflowing. There was a lot of inappropriate spreading this past winter as guys struggle to keep up. Building or adding of livestock numbers has not seen a concurrent increase in manure storage putting pressure on spreading bottleneck. Even with the good weather of last fall, many guys either found conditions questionable for spreading or just had too much manure for their facilities and equipment.