Ridgetown Ag Breakfast Meeting Minutes – April 5, 2016

Breakfast Sponsor: Thanks from group to “Bob Thirlwall – DEKALB/Monsanto Canada“

Synopsis:  The quote of the week comes from Dr. Peter Sikkema – “Start Clean – Stay Clean”!  Very little activity due to the rain and cold temperatures expected this week although some have taken advantage of the conditions to get the last of their red clover broadcasted onto wheat.  It is estimated that red clover has been applied on 40 to 50% of the wheat and 10% of the fields have had some nitrogen applied (split).  The mild winter and good fall conditions have resulted in a very good (fabulous!) looking winter wheat crop although some areas have been impacted by the large amount of rain of late (up to 4” during the past 10 d).  The next two weeks is a good time to “stage wheat and assess the overwintering health of the crop”.  Corn and soybean seed is being delivered but it was conveyed numerous times that dealers have spent considerable time and at a significant cost to their operations helping growers comply with the new Class 12 insecticide regulations.  Dealers will not release corn or soybean seed unless paper work is complete.  Xtend™ soybeans have not had EU approval as of meeting time.  Xtend soybean Canadian orders are on hold until a decision is made, although the US is allowing use.  Dr. Peter Sikkema and his students updated the group on the glyphosate resistance issue particularly in regards to Canada fleabane and with the recent confirmation of glyphosate resistant water hemp populations in Essex and Lambton counties.

Albert Tenuta (albert.tenuta@ontario.ca) is looking for soybean cooperators for sudden death syndrome studies and Janice LeBoeuf (Janice.leboeuf@ontario.ca) is looking for tomato cooperators for a nematode as well as phosorphus/soil health studies. If you have or know of cooperators, please contact Janice or Albert.  Thank-you!

Winter Wheat:  Some questioned whether the mild winter would impact vernalization of the crop and as Dr. Dave Hooker explained winter wheat needs 30-45 days below 00 C to vernalize, we easily had that, and therefore the warmer winter should not have an impact on yield potential.  Many noted that the wheat looked exceptional overall although there was some concern where water or freeze damage occurred previously and if the record low temperature in some areas Monday night (April 4) could negatively impact development. Dr. Hooker was again not concerned for the most part since temperatures at crown (below ground) were likely much warmer than -10C that may otherwise cause some injury at this stage of development, but he cautioned fields which had no snow cover and were shallow planted or had frost heave problems could be under greater cold stress; these fields or areas should be examined for cold injury.

See the article Assessing for Winter Wheat Survival on Field Crop News for more information.

Of the 50% of the wheat in the area, those fields where red clover was early-seeded could be impacted by the recent cold temperatures and should be examined for survival.  There was discussion around seed placed fertilizer on wheat impacting vigour and emergence (studies elsewhere such as Manitoba) but Ontario studies have not shown any negative impact on stand establishment or delayed emergence.  Phosphorus placed in-furrow on wheat in Ontario have shown a positive impact on uniformity of winter wheat stands and heading dates.  Wheat stands with high stem counts (tillering and plants) with high N rates could increase lodging risk.

Early season diseases such as Septoria and powdery mildew should be scouted when assessing your wheat this spring, especially since they were noticeable in the fall in some fields in the area.  This is especially true with susceptible varieties. Last fall, there was some incidence of leaf rust as well but since “rust diseases” need living plants to survive, they do not normally overwinter in the province.  Although winter conditions were mild, it was not enough for leaf rust to survive here especially since we didn’t have much snow to insulate the wheat; however, this does not imply that we shouldn’t be concerned about “wheat rusts” this spring.  The milder winter conditions have also resulted in early leaf and stripe rust infections in Tennessee and Kentucky; these early occurrences in the US could pose a risk for Ontario later this spring and growing season.  The typical spring storm fronts which come up through the Ohio Valley could bring wheat rust spores into the province earlier then we typically see.  So keep an eye out for these diseases.  Stripe rust, which as the name implies, causes “yellow-orange” stripes on leaves likes cool springs, and has not usually been a problem for Ontario unless growing a very susceptible wheat variety.  Leaf rust causes orange-red pustules or bumps on the leaves that can infect throughout the season; the earlier it starts, the greater potential impact it could have on yield.  There are many fungicide options available if needed.

Weeds: Glyphosate resistant Canada fleabane is still a big problem in soybeans although the weed is managed easier in corn compared to soybeans.  Dr. Sikkema and his students gave an update of their work. A glyphosate-resistant waterhemp study has confirmed glyphosate resistant waterhemp on 5 fields in Essex and Lambton counties.  There was discussion around the various herbicide options to manage these resistant waterhemp populations. Several pre-emerge herbicides were identified during the first year of study; season-long control starting with PRE herbicides is key to manage waterhemp since germination continues all season.

Another interesting study from the Sikkema Lab dealt with weed size and impact on yield.  In this “size of weed study”, preliminary results indicate a 2 bushels yield loss per acre for every inch of weed height (e.g., 4” weeds equals an 8 bushel yield loss in corn).  Larger weeds have a greater impact on yield loss potential.

Remember there are many weeds which are “cultivator resistant” (not controlled totally by cultivation) and these instances would again benefit from an early residual herbicide program.

Class 12 seed treatment regulations-  There was a lot of discussion by those in attendance on how new regulations have put the pressure on retailers, dealers, seed treatment company representatives, consultants, etc. in explaining the regulations and options to growers for compliance.  For those that have decided to proceed with orders for Class 12 products, the paperwork has been either confusing, not well explained, and/or the MOECC website not being very helpful.  A lot of time has been spent by the industry in what they felt was “policing” the regulations.

Horticultural Crops – a small acreage of sugarbeets has been planted, with the earliest March 22. It is expected that sugarbeet acreage will be down 3-4% this year.  This week is the last week of slicing at the processing plants, and the warmer winter did result in lost tonnage.  The Croswell, Michigan sugarbeet plant is being updated which is where Ontario beets are processed.  The “Ketchup” wars has seen an increase in 900-1,000 acres of tomatoes being contracted with Highbury Canco in Leamington as a result of the increased media and consumer attention around French’s ketchup requirement for Ontario grown tomatoes.  Some of these new acres will be contracted with ex-Heinz growers.  Field pepper acreage will increase this year as Ontario producers and industry have a good reputation for quality and yields. PMRA re-evaluation of Chlorothalonil was discussed and for those that would like to make comments they need to do so by June 10, 2016 at http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/cps-spc/pest/part/consultations/_rev2016-06/index-eng.php. Growers are concerned that regulatory changes may occur which would limit their options and they are feeling pretty discouraged with government at this time.  Also be aware of Group 2 resistance weeds in tomatoes.

The OMAFRA Vegetable Guide Pub 363 supplement is out and available at the OMAFRA Ridgetown office (519-674-1690).

Edible Beans – Chris Gillard gave an update on two studies on dry beans.  The first was a two-year planting date study which found an 8% yield increase from a May 20 to June 1 planting.  Soil moisture plays a big role and therefore, avoiding wet, cool soils early is important.  In another study dealing with soybean cyst nematode, it was found that differences in dry bean marketing classes differ in reproduction potential.  Mesoamerican classes such as blacks, pintos and navys exhibited greater SCN tolerance compared to Andean classes such as kidneys and cranberry types.

Tillage – it was noted that in some areas no-till use has been decreasing.   It is important to access residue levels since even in fields with some tillage, residue levels still high in many fields but in some not much residue left before planting.  Be cautious that more tillage could increase soil erosion, tillage erosion, and the risk of nutrient run-off into streams.

Seed corn acres are expected to be flat this year (same as last year) not only in the province but across North America since yields have been increasing considerable (100 bushel avg is common).

GLASI/Environmental Farm Plans – Great uptake on these programs. It was noted that are growers very environmental conscious and many at the meeting feel Ontario growers are doing better than the US growers in terms of Phosphorous but as with anything we can improve.  OABA/OMAFRA/Fertilizer Canada are working toward a full “4R stewardship” launch in 2017

Cover crops/Soil Health – There continues to be significant interest in cover crops. At meetings over the winter many growers expressed interest in interseeding cover crops into a corn crop. Many growers last year found creative ways to seed annual ryegrass and clovers into corn. Some dealers were offering it as a service as well. Generally the most success has been seeding  into corn at the 4 to 6 leaf stage. The choice of corn herbicide is important for the success of the cover crop. The Field Crop News has and article summarizing Darren Robinson’s work on this. There is still lots of interest in seeding cover crops after cereals if red clover was not seeded or had a poor stand. The first year of a cover crop study showed increased cover crop biomass with mixtures that contained 6 or more species. The best option after dry beans or soybeans is a winter cereal. It can be planted up until early November and still achieve some growth into the following spring. Watch seeding rates of cover crops because depending on the spieces lower seeding rates can still provide adequate cover. The OMAFRA website has seeding rates, seed suppliers and other information on cover crops. A project is starting up this year to evaluate the best way to take soil health measurements in precision ag fields.

Next Meeting: Ridgetown Agribusiness meetings are held in the Willson Hall Campus Centre (downstairs) at the University of Guelph Ridgetown Campus. Meetings start at 7:15 with breakfast  and every two weeks on Tuesdays.  Next meeting April 19, 2016.

Upcoming Events

Southwest Crop Diagnostic Days (UG Ridgetown Campus) July 6 or 7, 2016

FarmSmart Expo 2016 (University of Guelph, Elora Research Station) – July 14, 2016

Eastern Crops Day (U. of G., Winchester Research Farm) – July 28, 2016

Southwest Agricultural Conference – January 4 & 5, 2017