Mt. Forest Agribusiness Breakfast Meeting – July 2nd, 2019

Thanks to Snobelen Grain for picking up breakfast for the crowd.

As always, if changes or clarifications to these minutes are required please contact Ian McDonald.

This meeting concludes the spring series for Mt. Forest Ag Breakfasts. Thanks to all who participated in the various discussion and to those who read and commented on the meeting minutes. The group discussed possibly meeting in early August to get a handle on how the rest of the season will roll out and additionally will plan to meet in early December as a season wrap up.

While conditions have continued to be abnormal with scattered showers and lower temperatures, a lot has happened in the last two weeks. Most of the crop has been planted and into somewhat better conditions, however, there is a lot of concern with what will happen should we get hot dry weather and the various and many “ills” done by necessity this spring start to show up.

Overall acreages intended across the region are in line with original expectations, although often not with the originally intended hybrids and varieties. The group estimates unseeded acers will be well below what we expected even two weeks ago.

All crops are all over the place. Planting dates vary widely. The mid May plantings of corn look better than the May 24th plantings, and early to mid June look better yet. Fields are variable as the soils were in various levels of “fitness” when they were worked and planted. However, the continued rains have allowed a lot to emerge that otherwise would not have.

Fields that were pushed, are starting to show! This is a lot of fields and its expected to look a lot worse if conditions turn hot and dry. There just wasn’t a right move this spring. All bets were off and people felt they had no choice. Its just not possible to judge people’s decisions this spring.

This is a year that has really showed the value of drainage. The tile plows will be busy again this fall!

While wheat fields got sprayed for FHB, lots of dirty fields around across all crops and corn is needing nitrogen as many fields were planted without fertility. Although this varies, as those with custom application had those sprayers running when ground was too wet to work and plant.

If damp conditions continue, its likely to be a disease year, so its important to keep on top of fungicide programs for crops. The biggest problem this year will be determining payback given the threat vs the yield potential and what application costs are. Choose wisely!

Throughout the entire extended planting season, the soils have resisted drying out. The dust has not flown much this spring. With ground being worked, it tended to be shallow to stay out of the wet stuff at depth, but in doing so we have cut off the capillary action to the surface. This has resulted in soils below remaining “gummy”! With this higher moisture trapped below, soils are not drying out and roots are just not growing. With some heat the crops will start growing but in general we are all interested in what things will look like in a few weeks as the whole season to date has been unprecedented.

Despite the stressful spring, the dealerships indicate they had a lot of work but because it was so drawn out, they were not overwhelmed with a concentrated period of extremely long days. It was long and drawn out, but they were able to get things delivered out to the farms on a timely manner. Also, despite the weather, when guys were not able to plant, the dealerships were able to run applicators, so they didn’t get too badly behind at any time.


A lot of acreage went in the last week. Estimated we are at 98%. More planting still occurring to the north, and especially where producers don’t have crop insurance. While the planting date for Agricorp was extended across the province, the group feels this area which is prone to lower temperatures and earlier fall frosts need to stop planting. The earliest planted fields from mid May are not flowering yet but soon. Generally, in the V4-5 stage. Emergence is okay, and helped by continued damp soil, but still is quite variable.

Generally, soybeans seem to have better consistency than corn as you travel the countryside.

Very little replant has occurred likely because of A. they havened been back to fields as they struggle to finish planting and B. given the lateness of the season, they are just way more accepting of marginal stands than in a normal year. In general crusting has not been worse than a normal year, thank you continued moist conditions.

With the late planted soy’s and more acers of dicamba tolerant soybeans, there are concerns about air inversions during pre and post applications of this program. Its just well past the normal time when this herbicide program and many others are applied. All the other crops, gardens, lawns etc. are out there and need to be avoided with drift or off target due to inversion. Have talc or baby powder in the sprayer, if you push some out and it stays suspended, don’t spray. You want a bit of wind, follow label instructions carefully. BASF has also developed a smartphone app that can help in determining spraying conditions for this herbicide program, “Ingenia Spray Tool”. While we all understand the problems with getting to all these acers under the right conditions, this is a case where “pushing it“ can have significant consequences. You don’t want to be here!

Soybeans in general have received their herbicide but still catching up on late planted fields. Lots of volunteer corn in soybean and edible bean fields.

Lots of IP soybeans with missed burndowns. This is very problematic if fleabane an issue. In a normal year, the recommendation would be to replant and burndown. Not going to happen this year. These fields will be dirty and require a burndown prior to harvest.

Some aphids have been observed but not at threshold levels, so something to keep on top of.

Another concern is white mold. If wet conditions continue, the plants are going to be very vegetative and in high productive spots of fields canopies could be quite extensive. This will put more potential on white mold development.

Other foliar diseases may also be an issue with the dampness. Payback of fungicides on soy’s is always hard to calculate and more difficult this year based on the late plantings and expectations of lower yields in general.


In the end estimated the area lost only 10-15% of acers planted, leaving another 15% which should have been gone. There are obviously acers that were intended to be removed, but in the end, they just weren’t due to time constraints. Those “iffy” fields have been interesting to watch. Some have continued downward, while others have surprisingly improved. The crop continues to struggle for the late fall planted stuff. Likely a couple of weeks behind across the region. It will be very interesting to see what things look like when the combines hit the field.

Most of the crop in the area got a FHB spray. Timing was okay for most part, although those later fields made timing within a field difficult because of non uniform tiller development. It helped that wheat growth was relatively slow during the heading period which made the application timing work.

The issue at harvest will be moisture and FHB. Producers have to give more thought to harvesting of wheat crops as soon as they are mature and drying them down to storage moisture. A great deal of quality can be lost waiting for mature wheat crops to naturally dry to harvest moisture.

People are already calling about the price of seed for this fall. Some companies don’t expect to have pricing out till they see what seed quality and volume is. Pioneer is pricing their wheat this coming week.

Stands of hard reds have weathered as well as softs. Producers need to look at this option. Millers want Ontario hard reds and there may be some good incentives out there.

Given decent fall conditions there will be lots of wheat out in the area across Ontario that did not get planted. Producers are managing those fields to optimize wheat seeding dates.

Spring Grains

In general, looking good. They tend to be planted on livestock farms which have forages in the rotation, so soils tend to be in better shape. That and the cool spring have brought them along well despite the delayed planting. People are also growing more spring grains for both addressing forage inventories and having bedding available. If it continues to be damp, fungicide applications will help to preserve grain and straw yield.

Cereal leaf beetle will be moving out of winter wheat fields as they begin to mature. Scout for this pest and act as needed.

Watch the weather for indication of need for fungicides to protect yield and quality of both grain and straw. 

Acers are up and many are as nurse crops for forages. These situations the grains should not be harvested as its too much competition for under-seeded forages. Take off as silage at the correct maturity to make high quality feed. For more advice on managing cereals as alternate forages click here.


A lot of corn was planted the week of June 10th to the point where across this region we might be at or slightly above intended acers. Corn sales were up this year, and most of those acers did end up planted. Only the big guys seemed to have backed off acers as they just couldn’t get to them. Economics of corn this spring trumped soybeans and kept corn planters in the fields. In the south corn was still being planted last week. Lots of 2100 CHU corn went out in the area. Its expected to mature but be wet at harvest assuming we get an open fall.

Stands mostly okay given the year. In general corn went in too shallow. Guys were in a hurry and depth wheels built up with mud and people just didn’t take the time to clean them off as it would have been an ongoing exercise in frustration. There are significant acers that are seeing slot opening and side wall compaction. Its contributing to stand issues and likely we will see some herbicide injury as a result as well. Despite this, emergence is okay. Many who planted 32K are counting final stands of 28.

The crop is starting to grow quickly in this warmer weather. Plants will blow through leaf stages quickly although plants may look even further advanced than they are as the delayed planting means vegetative development is occurring during much longer days than normal so there is a lot of internode growth out there, which you don’t see at 80kph scouting. Plants are leafy and there are elongated internodes making it seem further along than it might really be. This all contributes to the potential for stalk strength issues come fall. Not an issue for silage fields, but grain fields will need to be scouted for fall stalk strength and prioritized for harvest.

Still some concern on root growth where seed trench was compacted. Those initial 3-4 roots will run out of “juice”. Hoping that the advances above move too 2nd root growth quickly which will anchor beyond the trench and get the plant really rocking!

There is no doubt that corn will need a lot of heat and an open fall to finish. While crops adjust to the environment that they get, we need a good 30 days of over 30C in the next 60 days to have a good chance of finishing these late planted corn crops.

People need to stay on top of weed control. Timing is critical to good efficacy and post emerge sprays will have trouble getting the proper crop and weed staging to maintain healthy crops and get effective weed control. As mentioned in previous meetings, producers’ expectations of weed control effectiveness will have to be managed. Rescue sprays may be required, and it will come soon after the main sprays as weeds advance quickly if they get through initial applications.

While many pre-herbicide programs were used and worked effectively, they have been down for a long time and with the combination of time and lack of crop cover for weed suppression are starting to let go.

While much of the corn crop receives upfront nitrogen, OMAFRA in partnership with SGS labs continues to conduct the seasonal Corn Nitrogen Survey. This is done to get an estimate of the general status of mineralizable N levels in fields across Ontario. This year with the delayed planting season, it was decided to sample both the week of June 18th and July 1st. The initial report is available here. In general, the numbers as expected are lower to date. Keep in mind this is a quick inspection of 60+ fields. It in no way reflects what might be occurring in individual fields. Anyone wanting to adjust N rates on their own fields are encouraged to soil test each field separately, since high variation can occur.

Considering the low mineralization of soil organic N to date and corn yield potential, the thought is to stay with Ontario Corn N Calculator rates this season. The Corn N Calculator App can be accessed here. The downloadable excel worksheet is available here and the online calculator is available here.

While the goal is to optimize yield potential with all inputs, in a delayed year like this we don’t want excessive N from a cost standpoint, but also, we don’t want to push “green” later in an already late season. This could have a large impact on test weight. Lots of guys equipped to Y drop these days. Ultra late is not the goal. Some discussion of the value of “spoon” feeding corn with N especially on sand and clay soils where losses can occur. If you spoon feed, you are less susceptible to that and can gain back the application cost. Still some concerns over too late applications not getting the N to the plant for uptake. Best to be side dressing corn from the 4-6 leaf stage up to the shoulder high stage.

While traditional side dressing with a coulter or shank delivering N below the soil surface has lost interest compared to Y drop because of speed and flexible timing, the opening of the soil this year may pay dividends well above the N.

Keep abreast of disease pressures. Northern corn leaf blight could be an issue although not yet identified in southern states. Watch for reports of it moving north and determine your risk and payback accordingly.


Still going in as of meeting day. Acreage is high and contracts are fully committed.


There are still forages and annual forages going out the door from seed suppliers. Many hay people found they were in worse shape than expected. Its surprising how many people did not check fields early to determine the extend of winter kill. Yields have been lower as a result and people are scrambling. Cows are milking well since the temperatures have been lower and feed inventories are continuing to decline including corn silage.

Forage inventories are at an all time low. People are looking for feed or seed to make more feed. Manure pits are full as spring application was mostly delayed or limited to what they needed to get out to reach post first cut.

There are considerable delays in harvest due to weather and growth stage delays. A normal 7-10-day window for high quality dairy hay first cut has dragged into a one-month period across the province. Considerable wheel damage (compaction, rutting) has occurred from harvest equipment.

Yields were down with first cut, and the very first 2nd cuts are also reporting lower yields then hoped for.

Many producers are working hard at addressing forage short comings. Information on alternative forages options and management are available here and here. The biggest think on alternate forage options is that they don’t necessarily respond to general forage management. Each has its own uniqueness and needs to be managed properly to deliver the yield and feed quality targeted.


Stands are reasonable considering the conditions. Planting dates like everything else are late but the impact will depend on what the weather does which will impact pollination and swede midge pressure.

Unseeded Acres

OMAFRA staff and industry colleagues have worked out some options for keeping unseeded acre fields covered with living cover crops. This protects soils from erosion, weeds, excessive soil temperatures and adds organic matter among other benefits. Information on what to do on these acres if your goal is ground coverage, preparation for winter wheat planting or alternate sources of forages for feed is available here.

Upcoming Events

July 9th – Forage Expo West, Pendora Dairy Ltd, Monkton

July 11th – FarmSmart Expo, Elora Research Station

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

August 8th – Compaction Day, Sheddon Fair Grounds

August 29th – Compaction Day, Winchester