Thank you to John Seliga from Pioneer for chairing the meeting and sponsoring breakfast.
Summary: The forecast for the week looks great, but clay soils across the region will likely continue to be too wet to plant for the rest of the week. With hot weather the soil surface will begin to crust and the clay beneath will remain wet. Spring grains, new forage seedings and early planted corn have emerged uniformily with no issues to date. Corn planting is complete or in progress on the lightest soils but is a long way from complete across the region. Burn down treatments are being applied to soybean ground, and producers in Brant and parts of Niagara have some soybeans planted (less than 5% complete). Winter wheat is approaching flag leaf across the region. Alfalfa weevil is present in many fields, but only approaching threshold in some fields.
Many farmers will be feeling rushed and will focus on getting farm activities done in good time, but take a step back and evaluate how safely you are working. What corners are you cutting? What safety issues might you be overlooking? Are you nodding off at the auto-steer wheel in the field? Injuries and accidents can be worse than slight delays for safety’s sake.
Winter Wheat: Fields that were planted late are now coming along nicely with the change in weather. Where the crop is not looking vigorous, farmers are trying to decide whether to keep wheat fields with low yield potential or remove the wheat. Is it better to harvest a wheat field with half yield potential but keeping the rotation and weed control program options or to take the field out and risk late planting or unseeded acres? There is a risk that the second crop might not get planted in good time because much of the region is still too wet to plant.
Most of the winter wheat is at or approaching flag leaf. Strobilurin fungicide applications to protect the flag leaf will be applied throughout the week. There are no reports of significant disease pressure in the wheat crop so far. Producers are happy with fields that received herbicide in the fall; fields that had fall weed control are still looking clean. There are predictions that straw yields will be low this year.
Agronomists are feeling positive about the number of growers keeping wheat in the rotation, and noted that many acres will see a cover crop seeded after wheat. The red clover catch is looking good on winter wheat acres that were underseeded.
Corn: Planting has not progressed significantly from the last breakfast meeting. Fields that are sandy and well drained are planted. Clay soils in Lambton, Essex, Kent, West and Central Elgin, Haldimand-Norfolk and Niagara remain are at a standstill because of wet soil conditions. Brant have essentially completed corn planting. Percent of acres planted is highly variable across the region and progress just depends on soil type. Although the forecast for the week looks good, the heavy soils will likely not be ready to plant this week.
There were many comments that the acres that have been planted are looking really good and many have emerged uniformly. Agronomists noted that many producers are showing a lot of patience and most acres are being planted into good soil conditions.
Soybean: As mentioned above, soybean planting progress is slow and in many areas has not really begun. Heavier clays may not be planted until late June. There was some discussion about maturity of late planted soybeans. If producers move to a shorter season variety they may not see much vegetative growth, leading to pods being produced low on the plant and difficult to pick up at harvest. Advice based on experience on the heavy clays has been to use full season varieties and increase seeding rates, even into late June.
The importance of a burndown herbicide treatment with some residual products was stressed. In some areas it is unclear how soon the soybeans will be planted, so producers do not want to put pre-plant herbicide treatments down too soon.
First cut harvest will begin this weekend or early next week for the dairy producers trying to get 4 cuts. Fields near the lake with cold winds coming off the lake are further behind. Most fields are just coming into early bud. Alfalfa weevil are present, but as of last week, still very relatively small and with little damage showing up in the alfalfa. Some fields do have higher pressure and will consider control if immediate harvest is not planned. Early cut fields should be scouted for weevil feeding on the regrowth.
The next meeting will be Wednesday, June 6 at 7:30 am.