Northern AgriBusiness Breakfast Meeting – April 22, 2020


AgriBusiness Breakfast Meetings have been held across southern and eastern Ontario for many years, and the virtual platform being used this year inspired the organization of a Northern AgriBusiness Breakfast Meeting. Representatives called in from Rainy River, Thunder Bay, Algoma, Manitoulin, Greater Sudbury, Nipissing, Temiskaming and Cochrane districts. This meeting summary includes crop-specific notes, current conditions in each region, and references to resources and projects that were discussed.

A reminder that anyone can join these meetings on their phone using the numbers provided without using the Zoom app or logging onto the Zoom website. The next meeting will be May 6th. Contact to be added to the contact list.

While some regions had snow this week, it was noted that in many regions fields had been bare for a few weeks and soil conditions are relatively dry. Retailers reported that a lot of bulk fertilizer has moved out to farms. Across the northern regions, fertilizer is being applied to winter wheat and forages. Some fertilizer is being spread on dry fields where producers are eager to conduct tillage or seed spring cereals. Manure is also being applied.

Seed has moved quickly through retail locations and onto farms. Producers are eager to have seed on hand in case delays arise in relation to COVID-19. There were no reports of supply chain issues in terms of crop production and crop inputs.

Agricorp Forage Rainfall Insurance applications, changes, and premiums are due May 1.


Winter Wheat

Winter wheat is looking less healthy now than it did at the end of March because temperatures remain cold. The wheat is in vegetative stages, so low temperatures may cause leaf tip burn but should not impact yield unless it is below -10°C or the wheat is in jointing stages (nodes visible). Wheat may be purple because of buildup of anthocyanins, formed from accumulation of sugars in leaf tissues when photosynthesis outpaces carbohydrate demand. It’s thought this is a function of warm, sunny days conducive for top-growth and photosynthesis, but very cold nights and soils which limit root growth. Once temperatures begin to warm the crop will continue to grow and the impact on yield should be minimal.



It had been reported during the winter that northern regions were planning to seed more acres of oats this year, particularly in Temiskaming. Oat prices are strong and even recently producers have been switching acres to oats. That said, crop advisors have pushed producers to maintain healthy crop rotations and not plant cereals back to back, to avoid issues with weed management and disease. At this time, it looks like soybean acres will be similar to last year and oat acres are not drastically higher in Temiskaming.  Algoma District generally always has a high proportion of oat acres.

It was mentioned that plant growth regulators (PGRs) are registered for use on winter wheat, spring wheat, barley and oats . However, oat producers should check with their specific end users whether they will accept oats treated with PGRs. PGRs are primarily used to manage risk of lodging in cereals. You can find more information on oat management HERE and PGRs HERE (both are available in French and English).



The majority of corn grown in the north is for silage. A participant asked for management tips on corn planted no-till into sod (primarily orchardgrass and fescue). In this scenario a “burn down” herbicide treatment can be used to control the grasses and weeds that are present ahead of planting. Herbicide application should be done when temperatures are consistently above 5-10°C. A high rate of glyphosate is required, and where broadleaf weeds are also an issue (eg. alfalfa or clovers in hay, thistles in old pasture) a group 4 product for broadleaf weed control may be warranted (check with your CCA, not all group 4 products can be applied preplant in corn).

If there is alfalfa in the stand, it would have been best to control the alfalfa in the fall (HERE is an article on fall  termination of Roundup Ready alfalfa). To terminate alfalfa in the spring use a minimum of 1.34 L/acre rate of Roundup Transorb (or any other 540 g/L formulation of glyphosate) but control in the spring can be variable. Adding Lontrel XC at 100 mL/acre will improve control of alfalfa and any red clover in the stand.

Potash levels are often low in sod or pasture fields. A soil test should be conducted and will inform what rate of potash to broadcast ahead of planting (but not on snow or frozen soil). A starter fertilizer with P and K will be beneficial; consult the OMAFRA Agronomy Guide – Pub 811 for safe rates of starter fertilizer.

It was noted an insecticide seed treatment is warranted to manage the risk of seedcorn maggot, particularly if there is a spring manure application on the field. Rough sod fields such as long-term pasture may be less forgiving than roughly tilled fields, so there can be significant row unit bounce. It’s suggested to drive very slowly (2-3 mph) to maintain singulation and ground contact for consistent planting depth – consistent planting depth for uniform emergence is critical for maximizing corn yields. A planter with heavy down pressure capabilities (heavy no-till springs, air or hydraulic down pressure) is likely critical for penetrating and maintaining seed depth in sod.

Row closure in sod with conventional rubber closing wheels is often inadequate due to root structure in sod, which can lead to open seed trenches, poor seed to soil contact, poor plant growth and non-uniformity. It is highly recommended to obtain cast-iron closing wheels with maximum closing wheel down pressure to close the trench.

An older article on planting corn into a hay crop can be found here:


Temiskaming and Cochrane Districts

A few inches of snow accumulated Tuesday but temperatures are normal for the time of year and right now the forecasted temperatures and rainfall look fine for timely planting.


West Nipissing and Greater Sudbury

Producers in the Verner area are hoping to plant soon. For the most part, fields have been bare for weeks. Soils may be more dry than normal at this time of year, so the bit of snow Tuesday may be valuable for additional moisture at planting.

Ontario Canola Growers Association are funding a starter phosphorous trial in spring canola that will be conducted in the Verner region by Ben Schapelhouman with TECC Agriculture Ltd. and Steven Roberge. The trial will include two different starter phosphorous products at different rates to evaluate crop safety (seedling toxicity) and yield. The trial will be repeated in Wellington County by Deb Campbell of Agronomy Advantage and Darcy Martin.



What looked like an early spring in March, is now leaning towards a late spring. Although the snow left early and the ground is mostly bare, temperatures are frequently -2 or -3°C down to as low as -7°C. So far there is not much growing, including the tulips and agricultural weeds. Winter wheat is looking tough now with the below zero temperatures, after having looked healthy at the end of March.


Thunder Bay

Some producers have recently harvested their 2019 crops, but field work has not started yet for the 2020 crop. There are still snow banks in the region, and tulips and weeds are just beginning to emerge.

Participants mentioned that lentils were grown in the region last year, to varying degrees of success. It seems the crop can be grown there but a market must be developed or interested buyers secured to continue to pursue the crop. Successful lentil production would also require access to a dryer.



Snow did not fall in Algoma yesterday, so fields are bare although nighttime temperatures are still low at -8 to -10°C. There is some tillage happening in the region. A lot of field work was left undone when fall arrived early in 2019.

While there aren’t a lot of large farms in the Algoma region, there is a major feedlot there and good demand for corn silage. Intended acres of corn are higher than last year. Other key crops in the area include oats and peas, but nothing has been planted yet.


Rainy River

A few producers have been working land, but it is still on the early side. Soil temperatures have been around 5°C and are dry on top because of frequent windy conditions. Many are pleased the soils are drying as the extremely wet fall meant that all field work could not be completed in 2019. Some have been harvesting their 2019 crops that were left in wet fields last fall.



There have been updates to the AgriSuite programs available at . Producers can use the online program to calculate crop fertilizer needs. The tools include:

  • Crop Nutrient Calculator
  • Organic Amendment Calculator
  • Fertilizer Calculator
  • Phosphorous Loss (PLATO) Calculator


Pesticide Applicator Licensing

Those concerned about pesticide safety licenses set to expire this year will be relieved to know that they will be carried over through December 2020. If you do not yet have a license or it is currently expired and you need to take the certification course; the Ontario Pesticide Education Program (OPEP) is delivering online courses. Visit and select “Online” as the course location.


SNAPP Survey and Funding

The Sustainable New Agri-food Products and Productivity (SNAPP) funding program was created to respond to opportunities and mitigate challenges of expanding agri-food in northern Ontario. The COVID-19 crisis has created new challenges and opportunities for the sector. To provide input on how SNAPP should respond, you can fill out a survey HERE. More information about SNAPP can be found at


NOFIA Plastic Compactors

NOFIA are running a pilot project for disposing bale wrap plastic waste. Compactors have been built and set up on a few farms and they are looking to install a few more, as well as provide instructions that can be used to build your own. In the future they will also look to have compactors at some communal locations. The pilot project is focused just on bale wrap for now, but in the future they hope to include other types of plastics. Different end users will specify the plastics they are able to accept, so for the pilot project it is easiest to work with just one type of plastic. More info here:


Changes to Neonic Treated Corn and Soybean Seed Regulations

Changes to the Neonicotinoid Treated Corn and Soybean Seed Regulations have been approved and are in effect. The update, as posted from the IPM Certified course website (

Ontario has made changes to the requirements for the purchase and use of corn and soybean seeds treated with neonicotinoid insecticides, imidacloprid, clothianidin and thiamethoxam (i.e. Class 12 pesticides).

Regulatory changes proposed last year to reduce complexity and regulatory burden have been implemented including:

  • Farmers are still required to be certified by successfully completing the IPM Course for Corn and Soybeans, but now, this certification only needs to be completed once. If you have previously been certified your certification no longer expires every 5 years and will continue to be valid.
  • The Pest Assessment Report (PAR) or a new Pest Risk Assessment Report (PRAR), only needs to be completed once per farm property, it does not need to be repeated yearly. If you have previously completed a pest assessment report that was prepared and signed under O. Reg. 63/09 prior to April 10, 2020, you may continue to use that report to purchase and use Class 12 pesticides.
  • Treated Seed Vendor requirements have also changed. A Treated Seed Vendor no longer is required to obtain copies of the PAR/PRARs, Written Declarations and certificate numbers from IPM certified farmers; and to complete sales records of each Class 12 pesticide sold and amount.  Vendors only need to request to view these documents to complete their sales records.

The Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks will no longer post a list of Class 12 pesticides.

The IPM Course for Corn and Soybeans has been offered since 2015.  Currently approximately 12,000 are certified through the program.  Topics discussed focus on integrated pest management principles for Class 12 pesticides, pollinator protection, regulations, and best practice management principals.  Any person who has not previously completed the course and requires Class 12 pesticides may complete the requirements by signing up for an online course. To sign up for an IPM Course for Corn and Soybeans, people can go online at or call 1-866-225-9020.

More information on the changes to the neonicotinoid regulations can be found at: