East Central Agribusiness Breakfast Meeting – June 12, 2019

Thank you to Chad Garrod and Corteva for sponsoring breakfast.

With such variable conditions, some producers are finishing planting, while others have not yet started. Even though yield potential has likely suffered, it’s important to recognize the need to manage good and bad crops to get the most out of each. Rural communities are made up of people who are willing to help their neighbours; don’t be afraid to ask for some extra hands to get the work done. The concern over people’s mental health across the agricultural community continues.

This year the precision ag side is interesting. Prescriptions are made based on data from previous years, but 2019 has been called “unprecedented”.

At this point, the window is closing for reseeding crops. Populations or other problems would have to be very severe to consider ripping up a crop. Therefore, despite the anxiety to get the remainder of the crop planted, consider the consequences of “mudding” it in!


Planting deadlines have been extended to June 17th for corn and July 5th for soybeans in the region. Individuals that are still making planting decisions need to consider the level of risk they can live with, given these late dates. Consider things like your history of harvest, expected weather for remainder of season, do you have crop already in the ground, do you need feed or is t all cash crop etc.

The Unseeded Acreage Benefit (USAB) is based on a producer’s average farm yield, dominant crop, and whether they selected a fixed or floating price for the crop. This means that the claim benefit amount varies by individual, and growers should contact Agricorp if they are thinking about using USAB. Growers do not have to wait until the planting deadline to decide to take USAB. Keep in mind that USAB doesn’t kick in until something else has been planted; the original crop is protected under production insurance until it is replaced. If conditions prevent reseeding a crop, a 0 tonne/acre yield on the production insurance applies. Where the conditions prevent you from planting your planned acreage of normal crops for your operation, you are not forced to try and plant another crop before claiming USAB. More information on USAB is available here.


The predominance of no-till in the region has caused additional problems this season by delaying the dry out of fields. Many have taken a light tillage to these fields to speed their conditioning for planting. Fields worked too wet have remained like “putty”, further frustrating the attempts to get a good seedbed. So far, the damage hasn’t shown itself, but there are concerns if it turns hot and dry.

Cover crops and plant green scenarios have suffered like no-till, but the cover has helped carry equipment on soils that were otherwise not suitable for equipment to be running on. Some fields that were late-harvested last fall have left a heavy residue with less time for breakdown and these are causing some problems.

Too much tillage has also caused problems. Worked soil that gets rained on can hold a lot of water and takes longer to dry. Shallow tillage seems to be effective in years like this. True vertical till, which opens the ground to sunlight, air and warmth is not intended to create a lot of soil disturbance. The newer high-speed single-pass shallow tillage implements are designed to lift the soil from a depth of 2-3 inches and throw it around, so it shatters and mixes. This does not happen when the soil is wet. The clods or ribbons of soil that don’t shatter are very difficult to rework to get the intended seedbed.

No till drills and planters are struggling on the small amount of “fit” clay soils to get in the ground.

Pest Control

We are at a point in the year when temperature inversions are more likely leading to greater potential problems from the growth regulator type herbicides. Using a bottle of baby powder in the field can give applicators an indication of whether conditions for this are occurring. Puff some powder into the air. If it dissipates all is well, but if it stays suspended, then spraying is risky. Follow the product label directions for the phenoxy and dicamba products to the letter to avoid problems.

Weeds are big and chemical efficacy may not be at its best. Use the right rates, water volumes and surfactants/additives as described by the labels. Many weeds do not yet have a thick cuticle due to the cool and cloudy conditions, but it won’t take much sun or heat to change this. Set expectations around efficacy and escapes, and plan to use multiple modes of action in weed control programs. Programs are likely to be more than one pass so scouting for correct staging and target species is critical.

With so much happening at once, be sure that sprayers are getting the correct clean out as you move to new chemistries and/or crops. Take some time to refresh memory on symptoms of subacute herbicide injury and this may be the first thing to diagnosis where problems become evident.

Many sprayers are out in too windy conditions. While the pressure to get field work done is very high, the risk to sensitive crops and the environment are additional problems that nobody needs.

Horsetail is becoming more of problem and needs management attention. Unlike annual weeds that can be managed from the seed, horsetail is a perennial and can put roots/rhizomes down 4-6 ft, making it almost impossible to control once it gains a hold of a field. Broadstrike products and MCPA’s seem to have the most effectiveness.

Don’t forget about insects! Often in backward years, insects can do considerable damage when crops are slow to emerge, and growth is slow overall. Information on insect pests to watch out for is available here.


Winter wheat that was kept on purpose is looking good. Staging is variable, making application timing difficult. Fungicide will be important to protect both grain and straw. Conditions remain high for infection of leaf diseases and fusarium. A T2 fungicide before heading may still be valuable even though the application timings will be close together. The optimal timings for leaf diseases and fusarium do not line up. Compromising on timing usually costs! While its tough to invest in poorer crops, it is critical that what gets harvested makes grade, so you have a market for it. Therefore, growers should manage the good and poor crops similarly. Further information on managing fusarium in 2019 is available here

The majority of the wheat fields did not get a herbicide. The early-planted fields are holding their own although still somewhat weedy, and the later, thinner fields are “thick” with weeds! Fields that received a fall herbicide program appear to have good weed control.

For those left with unseeded acres and plans for winter wheat, there was discussion on optimal seeding dates. Consensus was not before September 10th and optimally in the last two weeks of September into the first week of October. However, winter wheat planting date is the most unpredictable of all our main grain crops because of the variability of fall weather.


Alfalfa development is about three weeks behind normal. Generally, the region would have had over 400 GDDs (Base 5°C) by now, but AAFC maps indicate less than 370 GDDs as of June 10th. First cut got started in the region late last week. If growers are planning a fungicide application, it should go on a week after harvest to stay clear of the pre-harvest interval for the next cut. Stands of Italian (annual) ryegrass are looking very good.

Many fields are still wet, and harvest is causing ruts, hurting next cut yield and field smoothness. As these fields remain wet, be cautious when putting manure tankers onto hay fields. Optimize tire inflation pressures and consider less-than-full loads

Lots of questions coming in about managing sorghum-sudangrass and forage soybeans. Sorghum yield and quality are highest if cut before heading in a two-cut system. Cutting height should be at least 10 cm (4 in.) off the ground to promote regrowth. Fertility is very similar to silage corn, but sorghum needs 50 kg N/ha (45 lbs N/acre) after first cut to promote second cut growth. Soybeans are tough to ensile: the high oil and low sugar content buffer against fermentation, and they are very difficult to pack. Growers considering forage soybeans must ask themselves if they can afford to risk having a rotten, slimy mess if they don’t get every step of harvest and storage perfect.

There is expectation that there will be significant August seedings of new forage stands. Soil moisture is important to success at this timing, and a nurse crop with a summer seeding is not recommended.

Pastures are as variable as other crops. Many livestock were turned out early because of tight forage inventories, and without lots of sunshine the grass has not recovered as quickly as expected. Grasses set seed based on day length, so are heading out despite below-average yields.


Estimates suggest 70% of intended acres in the region are planted, up from 50% a week ago. This still varies widely across the region based on rainfall and soil types. There are farmers who have got in a very small percentage (<20%) of their intended corn acres but are switching to soybeans. Consensus was that it is too early to tell how less-than-ideal planting conditions may affect the crop. However, a wet summer would help compensate for fields that were “mudded in” preventing those soils from tightening up. There are almost 3 distinct crops planted based on seeding windows. The last one seems to have had corn go in nicer than the previous one. Planting this late and with the moisture available should see corn emerge in 4-5 days but the continued cooler than normal temperatures may be delaying emergence.

Growers switching to short-season hybrids need to work closely with their seed suppliers to match available hybrids to their fields. This conversation should include whether the acres are insured, how much of the grower’s crop is already planted, and what level of risk they are willing to accept. We are getting very near the deadline when people should stop considering corn. The value of a 70-79 day corn compared to soybeans would be questionable at this point. Corn silage is a different story.

Silage corn switch date for the region was the week of May 27th. Research from Wisconsin shows that beyond this point the yield potential of full-season and short-season varieties is the same, but short-season varieties have higher starch content. Growers should consider both their tonnage and energy needs when deciding whether to change hybrids.

Keep in mind that some crop protection products are only labelled for hybrids over 2500 CHUs and switching hybrids may affect the subsequent herbicide options available.

With the trouble getting manure on this spring, some has been drag hosed on corn up to 2 leaf stage. Since this application coats the emerged weeds in a layer of “muck”, make sure post herbicide treatments don’t happen until after a rain has washed off the weeds. This ensures proper contact and uptake of the herbicide by the weed foliage.


Estimates suggest 50% of intended acres in the region are planted, up from 30% a week ago. Some growers on lighter ground have already planted all their intended acres, and switched corn acres over to soybeans.

Consensus was for growers to stay with their original variety choice until June 20th. Growers whose original choice was longer than full-season for their area should consider switching maturities. Switching to capture earlier planting for wheat seldom gains more than a day or two when the switch is this late. Instead, growers should try to plant the fields that will go to wheat first, to give those soybeans an earlier start.

University of Wisconsin has released the Bean Cam app, which counts plant population at VC, V1, or V2 stage to aid in replant decision making. It is available for free for android and IOS devices. While stands look good and people were targeting the correct seeding depth, there is a concern that the presence of a compacted layer at about 2-3 inches depth could set the crop back if it begins to dry out.

Be aware that a pre-emergence herbicide application can injure soybeans if the seed trench didn’t close, the ground opened after planting, or your beans are approaching ground crack. With the later planting and slightly warmer temperatures, days between seeding and emergence are likely going to be shorter so don’t miss those pre- emergence herbicide timings.

White mould is something to watch for this year. Between conditions that favour fungal growth, and abandoning crop rotations out of necessity, the opportunity for white mould to be a challenge is there. The risk is particularly high in fields with narrow row spacings or increased populations. Scouting and weather conditions will be important things to address. Although we haven’t had excessive rainfall in most areas, the persistent of small rain events means we may also have conditions that lead to greater incidence of Phytophthora root rot.

A pre-harvest herbicide application will help clean up weed pressure and prepare fields for a winter wheat crop.

Upcoming Events

July 3-4 – SouthWest Crop Diagnostic Days, UG Ridgetown Campus

July 9th – Forage Expo West, Pendora Dairy, Ltd. 6447 Road 164, Monkton, ON

July 11th – FarmSmart Expo, Elora Research Station

July 12th – Ontario Soil Network Tour/Frontenac SCIA, Forman Farms, Seeley Bay

July 16th – Forage Expo East, Vosbrae Farms, 140 Skyline Road, Oakwood, ON

July 18th – Eastern Ontario Crop Diagnostic Day, Winchester Research Farm

August 8th – Compaction Day, Sheddon Fair Grounds

August 21st – Frontenac SCIA, car tour of apple production

August 29th – Compaction Day, Winchester