Simcoe AgriBusiness Breakfast Meeting – June 19, 2019

This was the last meeting of the Simcoe Breakfast group. We have analysed the spring to death and we can’t just keep talking about planting! Typically by now we have had fulsome discussions on fertilizer, herbicide and fungicide programs but that has not been the case this year.

The general story for the region continues to be that there are areas where no field work has been done. There are individual growers with thousands of acres unseeded, particularly in Niagara. In addition, the large majority of what is in the ground was planted before conditions were truly fit – some stated 95% of what’s planted was on unfit ground. The only time dust was flying was on the weekend of June 8-9th. It is expected that without continued rain the crops in the ground will suffer due to compaction and sidewall smearing that limits root growth.

Rainfall on Monday June 17 was variable across the regions represented at the meeting. About half an inch fell in the Caledonia area, but further south they saw up to 2”. Many producers have indicated they would be pushing to get as much planting done as possible ahead of the rain on Thursday. That rain event will likely end the planting season for many producers, while other will keep planting up to the July 5th extended soybean planting deadline set by Agricorp.

Growers are facing significant stress and have not been able to catch up on all the tasks that need to get done. It has been great to see a supportive environment where farmers are helping each other get work done, and ag business reps are doing their best to be supportive and try to reduce the stress producers are facing.

The tough spring conditions are anticipated to impact Lake Erie as well.  Heavy rains produce larger phosphorus loading in the Lake Erie watershed.  Phosphorus is the growth-limiting nutrient for cyanobacteria in the western Lake Erie basin.  This year, the intensity of the bloom is predicted to be more severe as compared to previous years, but the extent of this year’s bloom will also depend on temperatures as the season progresses.

Soybeans

The amount of soybean planting completed to date varies with soil type. Reports indicate that around Dunnville and Smithville and moving east there are essentially no soybeans planted. Around the Jarvis area, it is estimated about 50% of the intended soybean acres are planted. Early this week producers reported they intend to keep planting as many soybean acres as the weather permits this week. Many will plant through to the extended Agricorp planting deadline (July 5th), but rain this week will close off the planting window for some.

Despite planting into less than ideal conditions, soybean emergence so far looks quite good. Some recent warm rains likely helped the soybean crop that is in the ground.

The group discussed soybean maturity choices for planting beyond June 15th. OMAFRA suggests adjusting the maturity as the season progresses. If planting is delayed past June 15th exchange the variety for one that is 0.5 to 1.0 maturity less than the map; more information and the map can be found here: http://fieldcropnews.com/2019/05/is-it-time-to-switch-to-earlier-maturing-soybean-varieties/. However, the group at breakfast expressed concerns that adjusting the maturity of the variety down results in short soybeans with pods close to the ground that are very difficult to harvest. Soil type may be a factor in how short the plants end up being; going to a lower maturity may be more manageable on good ground. A double crop soybean project was conducted in years past in Niagara. Soybeans with maturities of 0.9, 1.8 and 2.9 were planted on July 18th. There was a frost at the end of October and only the 0.9 soybeans had matured. Others reported a 2.8 maturity variety planted July 10th and the beans were “ugly” but combined fine and went to crush, and so suggest Haldimand should stick to 2.5 or 2.8 maturity beans. It was also suggested to stick to the longest day beans you can, but just stop planting if it is getting late.

Corn

Seed dealers reported that they are finally reaching the end of moving corn seed around. In general, the region completed planting between 60 and 70% of their intended corn acres. A good chunk of those acres were planted on the June 8-9 weekend. Planting intentions were high across the region because of favourable prices and some were able to effectively double their corn acres but, of course, a lot of corn planting intentions were not achieved. Extra corn acres went in on sandy tobacco ground, – for example about 5% additional in Waterford and Norwich areas – but this does not make up for ‘lost’ corn acres overall.

Corn will live off the seed up to the 3 or 4 leaf stage, but because of planting in to poor conditions some corn is starting to look variable as it moves past the 4 leaf stage. Open seed slots and smeared sidewalls will likely result in challenges through the season, including limited root growth and floppy plants.

Producers should be out scouting for insects in the corn crop. Black cutworm have been reportedly found at threshold in corn fields. Western Bean Cutworm will be in the early stages of their flight now.

Wheat

Some wheat fields that looked tough in the spring have really turned around and have filled in with good tillering. A month delay in planting last fall has translated into about a week delay in flowering. Agronomists have stated that they typically see fields in the region all reach flowering within about a 5 day window. But this year the spread in growth stages across the region is around 12 to 14 days.

Fusarium risk prediction tools are indicating a high chance of disease in many areas. Fungicide spraying started about 10 days ago west of the region, and locally is starting this week. Fungicide timing is difficult in fields that are variable. Producers with highly variable fields should consider applying fungicide closer to Day 6, the end of the T3 timing window, to allow later emerging heads to come out of the boot. Fungicide can still have good efficacy at Day 6. Be aware of the pre-harvest interval indicated on fungicide labels.

Agronomists are reporting finding cereal leaf beetle. The pressure of the pest varies from field to field; get out and scout your fields. Some fields do not have many, but others have very high cereal leaf beetle pressure. Cereal aphids are also being found in some areas.

Some producers are stuck with terminated winter wheat fields that remain unseeded. You cannot make an unseeded acreage claim on these fields, they will be recorded as winter wheat with zero yield and claims with proceed based on your Average Farm Yield (AFY) for wheat. The impact of zero yield on your AFY will be buffered; the details of this can be discussed with Agricorp.

Forages

A lot of manure is going out on alfalfa following first cut. More forages than usual are being wrapped because producers don’t want mature grasses being ensiled. Volume of first cut was not too low but quality may not have been great. Hopefully second cut is more typical. Watch out for alfalfa weevil, they are being found across the region.

Weeds and Herbicides

There has not been much discussion about herbicide topics at our breakfast meetings until this meeting. There seem to be a different profile of weeds being found in this wet spring, such as a high amount of spreading atriplex (looks similar to lamb’s quarters), scentless chamomile, and white cockle.  Spraying has been delayed so weeds are very large.

Weed control is a constant battle this season, and some growers put a burndown on in May and are having to come back to respray now before planting. There are also situations where producers prioritized planting and did not have preplant herbicides down. Many producers are dealing with very advanced, large weeds. Furthermore, some are having to respray because high amounts of rainfall have moved herbicides somewhat further down in the soil profile, and high moisture levels are promoting more shallow germination of weeds at the soil surface.

Many points of advice were shared:

  • Using high water volumes is critical to getting good control of large weeds, as is using the appropriate surfactant. Be sure to follow the label.
  • Producers need to be extremely mindful of temperature inversions at this time in the season. On the way to the meeting inversions were obvious, with mist hanging above fields and next to no wind movement.
  • In general, herbicides are being applied much later in the season than typical, which is putting sensitive crops at risk. Be very mindful of nearby crops and, regardless, be careful about ensuring conditions are appropriate for spraying (e.g. wind speeds, inversions)
  • Where seed trenches are open, seed and seedlings are at greater risk of being damaged by post plant herbicide applications.
  • Crop plant cuticles are very thin because of lack of sunshine through the spring, so herbicide damage and physiological fleck in wheat are more prevalent.
  • Adding 28% to the tank will heat up herbicide applications and is not recommended beyond 2 leaf corn or where cuticles are thin, so growers should consider avoiding mixing 28% with herbicides this year. More info on UAN use in corn can be found here http://fieldcropnews.com/2011/07/post-plant-nitrogen-applications-in-corn/
  • There are a lot of questions about controlling volunteer corn. Note that adding Group 1 graminicides to a burn down, such as those containing dicamba, may cause antagonism of the graminicide and reduce control of the volunteer corn.

Finally, watch the re-cropping interval of herbicides when spraying late – early spring plantings are just 9 months away now. If product labels indicate later applications will impact fall or spring seeded crops, consult the company reps to clarify what their experience has been with shortening the window on your soil type. There may be some flexibility but it is best to check labels and check with your trusted agronomists.

Agricorp

Many growers are in crop insurance claim situations they have never been in before. Agricorp are hosting a meeting Friday to answer questions. A large crowd is expected at the Binbrook Fairgrounds meeting at 9am Friday.

The soybean planting deadline has been extended to July 5th so Agricorp are not yet able to report on unseeded acreage. Growers are encouraged to call Agricorp to discuss any questions about claims and coverage, or check the Agricorp website.