Mt. Forest Ag Breakfast Meeting Notes – May 2, 2017


The weather forecast is an obvious concern for everyone. Not much done and lots to do. Once there is a break its going to be a mad dash to the finish. We know from previous research and experience that the importance of early planting date to yield potential is over ridden by the requirement to seed into “fit” soil. There may be a lack of patience to wait until the ground is suitable for planting and other field operations which may come back to haunt us. As the weather continues to frustrate people corners will be cut! SOIL condition (fitness) trumps planting date!

Its shaping up to be a spring similar to the one we had in 2014; however many feel we are better prepared this year than back then. As well as of the meeting its only May 2nd.

Despite the amount of rain received to date and the upcoming forecast, the consensus is that the ground has been relatively dry as a result of last year’s drought and the low amount of snowfall received this winter.  Once it stops raining, the thought is that the amount of precipitation we are receiving should move away quickly.

Rain across the region ranged from under 20mm to the north and west to over 90mm in the Hamilton/Niagara region.


Crop Insurance

While calls for claims continues to be low, it is recommended that wheat and other crops continue to be scouted constantly and that if things look to be going backward, get your calls into Agricorp as soon as issues are observed. It is also suggested that you have the contact information of your local Agricorp adjuster and copy them on any damage report you submit. The adjusters cover large territories and you may get faster service if they are aware of the damage report as soon as you submit it.

There was a big run on forage insurance but the deadline for purchasing passed on Monday My 1st.

Unseeded acres only available until June 15th. Based on forecast, there are concerns that that date could come upon us quickly.

There have been about 200 winter wheat claims so far which is very low compared to other years.  Most of the claims are from Lambton, Essex and Bruce counties.


Forages are growing slowly and like everything else need some heat. The cool and wet conditions have favoured the grass component of forage mixtures. With forage mixtures, first cut decisions should be based on the grass maturity in order to keep the quality up on all cuts.

A significant amount of spring gains were planted as nurse crop to alfalfa.


Winter Wheat

This is the best wheat crop in many years. Only place where there has been damage reported in the region is along Lake Huron. Cool conditions favour wheat and it is estimated the crop is 7-10 days ahead of normal. There continues to be a difference in late versus early planted wheat but the gap is closing. Good tillering and lots of growth. At the same time weeds are growing. As discussed last meeting, where herbicides were applied last fall, the urgency of weed control this spring has been reduced. However, lots of weeds growing now and have to judge if the canopy can hold them from going to seed. If not then the decision may need to be made to spray.

With the continued weather conditions, there is concern for disease development. Septoria and powdery mildew are in the lower canopy and progressing in some fields. A bit of leaf rust has been detected in Bruce County but stripe rust has not yet been found. Stripe rust was found in Indiana in late April, but to date, no detection of it in Ohio or Michigan. While the diseases are present in the canopy, we have not reached an “Oh My God” moment yet but continued scouting is important. With the crop being ahead of schedule maturity wise, people have to stay on top of staging and disease pressure and severity to make fungicide use effective.

Nitrogen has been applied to 70-80% of the acres in the region. Some splits went on giving another opportunity to account for any expected N losses due to the wet cool weather. There are questions from those that  applied all their N in one go as to the amount of losses they may have encountered. When there is air in the soil, denitrification will not occur. Under saturated soil conditions the numbers for N losses are:

~10 C – 1%/day

~15 C – 2%/day

~20> C – 5%/day

if conditions persist. Preplant soil N tests taken atElmvale area showed very low soil N levels to date, which in general we would expect given drier soils early, and the cool, saturated conditions so far this spring. This also suggests that N mineralization from manure may be slow to become available.

Spray timing for fungicides and herbicides may now line up. However, continued cool damp weather means you have to be concerned about crop injury. Tank mixing herbicides and fungicides is labelled up to the early flag leaf stage; however, caution is needed with temperatures. At a bare minimum, forecast minimum temperatures should be no less than 3C the day before, day of and day after spraying (“3-3-3” rule). Avoid these cool temperatures if possible and definitely do not tank mix when temperatures are not warm enough. In cool temperature situations, the priority is the fungicide application. Some N still needing to be applied and timing might be the same for all.  Important to have at least 24 hrs and preferably 48 hrs between N application and any fungicide or herbicide applications. If too short some injury likely to occur; however, it is difficult to predict the actual impact on yield. For fungicides it is important to be at 20 gal/ac of water at minimum. Micros in tankmix are okay but may result in some bronzing injury. Rarely has there been a yield penalty observed from this injury. Lots of situations where the winter wheat was planted following edible bean harvest last year so that crop is well advanced and in need of attention even more so that the rest of the crop.

There has been a report of chafer damage to winter wheat on sandy ground.

Red clover stands in winter wheat appear to be doing well. Lots of talk about cover crop use after wheat harvest this summer.

Pricing on wheat has jumped with the recent weather in the US, (ie Kansas snowstorm). Marketing should be something to spend time on while weather keeps you out of the fields. Lots of opportunity to lock in some sales and plan for the future. Marketing should not stop just because you’re in the field planting.


Spring Cereals

Acreage down about 25% currently due to the weather. Not expected that the remainder of the planned acres will be planted. Most were planted into okay conditions but the last amount planted up to Saturday April 30th may have some issues.



A very small number of acres have been planted. Seed orders still strong but planting window target should be before May 20th to minimize swede midge damage associated with later plantings.

Similar to soybeans, seed size this year is larger than normal. Make sure you account for this in your planter setup and seeding rate targets.



Very little corn has been planted. More has been planted to the west of London on lighter ground and around light ground south of Waterloo. What went in on the lighter ground seems to have been under “fit” conditions, but some concern for corn that was planted Friday and Saturday of last week ahead of the significant amount of cold rain.

In situations like we are facing it’s important not to work ground too far ahead of planting. This is when we run into problems with rain following tillage. Best to work ground just ahead of planting to avoid the muck that comes with the alternative.

Soil temperatures have varied widely day to day with air temperatures. Not enough heat to warm the soil to the point where it can hold it. With the continued backward weather the seed is probably safest in the bag. Currently CHU accumulation is essentially zero per day because of cool temperatures. It takes approximately 180 corn heat units to get a corn plant to emerge. Current CHU in Stratford reported by are 103 for April 20-30 and zero from Sunday till Tuesday. We aren’t losing much by not having the seed in the ground.

Not a lot of fertilizer on the corn ground yet. Depending on the length of time we continue to be out of the fields, fertilizer application may have to wait until after the crop is in the ground. But again, this will depend on how quickly the ground is fit for planting verses fertilizer spreading as it warms up and dries out.

There is a big concern for soil compaction. Also warning that in the urgency to get crops planted, people may push the speed. This may lead to additional problems. Ensure that the ground is fit for speeding up planting. Usually all you get is more skips and poor uniformity of seeding depth. Even with high speed planters, the fields have to be high speed fields and that might be more questionable this spring. With the rush to plant, the ground may end up worked quite rough.

There has been a little bit of chatter on switching corn hybrid maturities but really only important at this point for a few people who were really pushing their window. There is concern about ability to switch hybrid maturity based on availability and seed treatment restrictions.

More of concern will come if there is a large push to switch corn to bean acres.

Army worm moths have been detected in Midwest traps. Flights are a month earlier than normal so be aware and on the lookout.

Estimated percentage of corn seed treated with neonicotinoids ranges from 2-40%, depending on seed company. Some of this is producer request and some is contractual on the part of the seed companies.



While field operations are halted, get those bean planters in shape. Majority of seeds are large this year based on response to last year’s weather. Large seeds feed through planters differently. Ensure that you have adjustments made to account for this. Planter speed will also have to be watched so that seed doesn’t bunch in the pathway to the ground. Large seeded beans are more susceptible to splitting. A “split bean” is a “dead bean”, so ensure you are delivering whole seed to the ground.

Large seeds have large cotyledons. These have to be dragged by the plant through the soil to emerge. Need to ensure that soil surface is not sealed over and difficult for the plant to push through. The significant tendency to roll beans should be reconsidered. Planting depth should be typical 1.5 inches, make sure its covered, but ensure it’s not too deep and that the soil condition is conducive to emergence.

Soybean seed is in relatively short supply. The move away from IP beans and the problems with seed production last season are to blame. If you think you might have to switch, seek out your seed supply well in advance of that decision as it may impact your ability to change.

Dandelions are big in many fields already. Be sure to be on top of these as bean planting is going to rapidly follow corn planting and the window to address is going to be difficult to find. If dependent on custom spraying, they are going to be long lists of acres to spray so get your requests in early. Spraying that is not timely is highly problematic. Spraying earlier than later is preferred in terms of overall impact on crop yield and efficacy of the treatment.

Neonicotinoid treatments are thought to be on around 50% of the intended seedings.


Pesticide Mixing and Tankmixing

There is an important order to mixing pesticides in sprayers to ensure even and thorough mixing of products to enable the efficiacy of each component to optimize. This order should be followed and there should be sufficient agitation between adding the various components of the mix to ensure they are well dissolved in the deliver carrier (usually water).

Table 1. Mixing Order of Pesticide Spray Components in the Tank (adapted from BASF)

Mixing Order Abbr. Material
1 W wettable powders and flowables
2 A agitate, aniti-foaming compunds and buffers
3 M microcapsule suspensions
4 L liquids and solubles
5 E emulsifiable concentrates
6 G high load glyphosates
7 S surfactants

Ensure thorough agitation between each component of a batch mix


Canada Fleabane – samples taken from west of Brussels last fall and tested showing resistance to glyphosate and group 2 herbicides, its hear so needs to be addressed in herbicide program.


Upcoming Dates

July 5-6  – Southwest Crop Diagnostic Day – Ridgetown College UG

July 4, 6 – Forage Expo West (Oxford) and East (Carleton/Ottawa)

July 13 – FarmSmart Expo – Elora Research Station

July 19 – Eastern Crops Diagnostic Day – Winchester Research Station

Aug 2nd or 3rd week (tbd) – Soil Quality Workshop – Eastern Ontario

Sep 6th – IFAO Compaction Demonstration Day @ Shawridge Farms just east of Arthur.