The group agreed the breakfast meetings are starting to feel like the movie Groundhog Day, because we don’t seem to have anything new to talk about since meeting 2 weeks ago, or even 4 weeks ago.
Some general notes on conditions are that crop rotations are going out the window. Producers are planting what they can, where they can, and looking at crop prices when making their decisions. Many are simply looking for their driest ground, and picking fields they can work and get done in one day. With limited opportunity for fields to dry out, compaction is a significant risk and long term damage is likely occurring. Try to run equipment lighter if you can, but this is certainly difficult to do when we are short on time.
There will be fewer research plots and variety trials in place this year. This year is so unprecedented that the data may not be overly valuable anyway. The group reflected that the most similar year in memory was 1992 when many local growers on heavy ground planted about half of their acres. At other breakfast meetings it was noted that 1983 was also a similar spring.
There are some winter wheat fields with heads fully emerged, but many are still approaching heading. Some fungicide applications for fusarium control will occur this weekend. Staging for fusarium application will likely be very difficult in fields that are highly variable, but the weather may be the deciding factor anyway on when sprayers will roll. Info on decision making around fusarium management and fungicide decisions can be found here: https://fieldcropnews.com/2019/06/managing-fusarium-head-blight-in-the-2019-winter-wheat-crop/
Corn planting is certainly very far behind and much of the clay ground has not yet been fit for planting. However, progress has been made on lighter ground, with Norfolk being the furthest ahead. In some cases, planting has gone ahead in less than ideal conditions. If there are 2 more good drying days there would be more fields fit to plant but we may not get those 2 days. The most advanced fields in the regions are at around the 4-6 leaf growth stage (early May planted) but most is at 2-3 leaf or just emerging.
Corn prices are strong, and lower yielding corn may be more profitable than soybeans this year. It was stated that some growers may be scaling back corn inputs as they are not expecting a high yielding crop. In addition, reducing the number of times you have to stop and fill up for fertilizer application seems to be helping get the crop planted faster.
Cutworm damage is being observed in some corn fields, especially where there is a lot of chickweed, so it’s important to get out and scout. Lumivia and Fortenza provide control of cutworm, but the larvae must take a bite of the plants to be exposed to the products. More information on black cutworm and other pests being observed now can be found here: https://fieldcropnews.com/2019/05/potential-pests-in-noplant19/ .
There may be some issues finding shorter season corn hybrids, but the dealers suggested it’s worth asking because there is still some available and they will do what they can to help.
In this region soybean planting is likely below 5% complete. Some are going ahead with a drill while the planter is busy with corn. Information on soybean maturities and yield potential can be found here: https://fieldcropnews.com/2019/05/is-it-time-to-switch-to-earlier-maturing-soybean-varieties/
Soybean seed supply is tighter than for corn, so there may be some issues with switching varieties of soybeans.
Spray programs are changing quite a bit from intentions. Some producers are considering straight glyphosate programs because of time constraints and because they are not sure what crop will get planted in each field, but agronomists recommend against this where possible. We still need good weed control programs.
There is concern that fields with corn herbicides applied may have to be switched to soybeans due to the weather. The University of Guelph has evaluated soybean response to being planted at various intervals after corn herbicides have been applied, a summary of the results along with the scientific manuscript can be found at:
A newer product, Acuron, has been popular on corn ground. It is not safe to plant soybeans following application of Acuron. The decision to plant soybeans after a corn herbicide has been applied should be made after consulting with the herbicide manufacturer, crop insurance adjuster and your trusted agronomist.
A lot of hay will likely be cut over the next week. It was noted that fields seeded last year in the region tend to look much better than older stands. Some fields in their 4th year or older did not survive the winter at all. Even in those stands that did survive and have reasonable stem counts, plants have a fair bit of rot when stems are cut open and generally look spindly and of poor colour. Fields with good fall fertility seem to look healthier. Drainage was clearly a big factor and many fields had “tile run” alfalfa. Manure is expected to be applied after forages are cut, as manure storages are still quite full.
Feed shortages are a significant concern, as is straw availability. Some producers are planting extra silage corn and sorghum, and in winter wheat fields that have a good catch of clover there will likely be a cut of clover for feed. Some cover crop rye fields have been cut for feed. Retailers have had a lot of calls for oats and sorghum.
Check the Agricorp website for planting extensions. Many crops have had planting date deadlines extended in some or all regions. http://www.agricorp.com/en-ca/News/2019/Pages/PI-HowPIRespondsWhenPlantingIsDelayed.aspx?utm_source=Agricorp.com&utm_medium=Banner&utm_campaign=PlantingDeadlineExtensions
There was a lot of discussion on the unseeded acreage benefit and how it is calculated. Growers should double check what they indicated would be their dominant crop, as this will factor into what your unseeded acreage benefit would be. There are set prices for corn ($4.70/bu) and soybeans ($10.75/bu) and the calculation is based on one third of your average farm yield. A deductible is also subtracted, and whether the field is tiled or not will be factored in. Some details can be found here: http://www.agricorp.com/SiteCollectionDocuments/PI-FeatureSheet-UnseededAcreageReseedingBenefits-En.pdf
You must call Agricorp by June 15th to report unseeded acres.