Field Crop Report – May 4th, 2016

Cereals: Cool weather over the last two weeks has kept disease levels low. Lush spring growth and forecasted temperatures are expected to increase disease development. Difference in planting date have resulted in varied growth stages and level of canopy closure, so scouting to appropriately time pest management activities is critical (Figure 1.)

early planted wheat
Canopy closure with early planted wheat on May 5th, 2016
Canopy closure of late wheat planted on May 5th, 2016
Canopy closure of late wheat planted on May 5th, 2016

Weeds are now the top priority. Many fall germinated weeds may be beyond the stage for good weed control. Annual weeds are just beginning to emerge so scouting should be a priority.

There is some interest in growth regulators in anticipation of lodging issues. There are restrictions as to what growth regulators can be used in Ontario so contact your ag-retailer or grain elevator for more information about available products and timing.

Spring cereal planting is almost complete with planting condition being very good. Acreage is down from last year but comparable with 2013 and 2014.

Corn: As of mid-week, planting estimates are in the 10-15% range of intended acreage. The cool, damp weather of the last two weeks has reduced planting progress. Producers have shown patience when soils were just not ready. The far southwest received rain last weekend which will delay planting on much of the heavier soils there and east end of north shore Lake Erie is also struggling to get started.  Table 1 provides  an overview of planting progress provincially over the past 11 seasons.

Table 1. Approximate planting date when >90% of corn acreage was planted in Ontario and the corresponding yield over the past 11 seasons.

Year Approximate Date When >90% of corn acreage planted Final Grain Yield (bu/ac)
2015 May 10 170.6
2014 June 1 160.9
2013 May 20 160.5
2012 May 15 153.2
2011 June 10 152
2010 May 5 164
2009 June 5 142.6
2008 May 15 156.1
2007 May 15 133.8
2006 May 20 150.5
2005 May 20 145

Source: OMAFRA

Planting really kicked into gear mid-week and will continue at a frenzied pace through the next week. Despite the emphasis on early planting date to capture the greatest yield potential, this is always with the caveat that soil conditions must be suitable. Soils that are not suitable for planting can result in significant loss of yield potential. The yield potentials of today’s hybrids are tremendous. The old saying that the greatest yield potential of the crop is highest when it’s in the bag, and begins to decline when planted in the soil is true. Protect that yield potential by ensuring the ground is “fit”!

Forages: Reports of winter kill on forage stands remain low and are not expected to rise although with the cool weather the growth to date has been slow, so more cases may arise in the next couple of weeks. The slow growth may delay first cut dairy haylage, but things can change quickly now with some warmer weather. Where damage has been reported, it is small patches of usually low ground in fields as opposed to losing a whole field. As growth begins in earnest, scout for poor areas of the field and cut those crowns and roots open to look for white healthy tissue. Assess stands on a whole field basis.

Soybeans: Very little planting has occurred. Conditions in fields will be rapidly improving this week so once fields are fit, there should be nothing holding back planting. Seeding depth is a prime consideration for soybean management. At least 1.0” is recommended and  targets should be 1.25-1.5” as the soil warms up. Planting too deep with soybeans can be equally problematic since there are variety differences in hypocotyl length potential. Drills are consistently less reliable for uniform seeding depth than planters. Visually you don’t want to see much seed on the surface. If you do, the planting depth is most likely too shallow. Check planting depth often and as conditions change.

Canola: While planting has begun, progress is still low as soil conditions further north are less “fit”. Currently southern and northern growing areas are at about the same acreage. There is anticipation of acreage being up about 10% this year over last. Early planting is typically beneficial for yield but more specifically fast emergence and bolting are the key in avoiding damage from flea beetle and swede midge.