Cobourg and Winchester AgriBusiness Breakfast Meeting Minutes – April 29, 2020

People have commented that the mood is generally good out there and farmers are eager to plant.

Field work started progressing quickly in the middle to end of last week. Manure is going out, fertilizer is going out and ground is being worked. Planting has started under very good conditions. The typical issues associated with soil texture are dictating how ready ground is to be planted and worked. Some areas are still waiting on heavier soils to be in “fit” condition.

Many producers are seeding cereals, forages, corn and soybeans all in the same window. It’s great to get an early start but this may lead to some logistical issues in season as other inputs need to be timed properly for each crop.

Temperatures continue to be cool, with many frosty mornings over the last couple of weeks.

One caution to emphasize is the need to respect the COVID-19 protocols for physical/social distancing. Many farm supply outlets would be shut down quickly and fully if an employee was determined to have the disease. This could stop the flow of fertilizer, seed, chemicals out to the farm fields at a critical time. Encourage everyone to respect health guidelines and not to be getting into others’ vehicles etc.


Important dates to remember are:

May 1 – Deadline to apply or make changes to spring-seeded Grains and Oilseeds, New Forage Seedings, and Forage Rainfall insurance. Premiums for Forage Rainfall insurance are also due.

May 15 – Spring grains (oats and barley) date deadline for coverage, May 31 Renfrew area

May 25 – Planting deadline for spring wheat in Area D

May 31 – Spring grains (oats and barley) Area D

June 30 – RMP deadline for crops and livestock

July 3 – AgriStability deadline

Full details at and specific link to seed deadline dates is here.

Agricorp is seeing renewed interest in programs from those previously not enrolled or who had let coverage lapse.

Agricorp is encouraging producers to use the updated website tools for communicating acre and seeding date info. Like many other businesses, employees are working remotely, and faster communication can occur via the website or email at Phone lines are still open for those with limited access to IT technology and infrastructure.

Winter wheat damage reports started out small early in the spring, with lots of optimism for this crop. However, the continued cool, frosty weather has resulted in more reports coming into Agricorp in the last couple of weeks. Most damage reports have come from the region east of Brockville. In this region more than 60% of insured clients have reported damage. A total of 40 damage reports have been submitted for forages in Eastern Ontario.


Winter Wheat

Many factors are likely at play on these fields where things have gone backwards. Some of the problems can be traced back to January when 30-50 mm of rain occurred with ice forming in the following week. Further issues are being attributed to the wheat breaking dormancy early with nice weather followed by this prolonged period of cool weather. Damage is showing up more in lower parts of the fields compared to the higher ground which reinforces the issues associated with winter rainfall and where temps are cooler across a field overnight. Some of the wheat fields in the Ottawa west area have only 50% survival. People need to be checking these fields to plan the path forward.

There was the comment that seeing the wheat how it is today, people should have held off on applying nitrogen. However, wheat really needs the nitrogen to kick into gear, especially if its late-planted and lagging. Unfortunately, we were just hit with this period of cool weather that has not allowed much growth to occur. Purpling of winter wheat leaves is also showing up more than normal. Purpling is usually caused by buildup of anthocyanins, temporary carbohydrate storage when photosynthesis outpaces carbohydrate demand. This may be due to warm, sunny days conducive for top-growth and photosynthesis, but very cold nights and soils which limit root growth. It appears to be more pronounced with earlier planted wheat (more top-growth) and more apparent in some varieties. This is expected to go away as temperatures warm, with little impact on yield.The soil is drying in some areas, with plants on knolls yellowed and clay soils cracking. We should be okay with rain later this week but it’s something to be aware of and check. Soils in spring will often look dry at the surface but remain “gummy” an inch or two below. Try to limit equipment weight and control traffic in these conditions.

While T1 fungicide timing is getting closer, currently the incidence of disease is low and disease models are suggesting low risk for infection. This can vary widely and thus farmers should be encouraged to scout fields to ensure optimal decision making for application need and timing.

Annual weeds are generally either absent or small, but with some expected heat they will advance quickly and need to be scouted for optimum timing and herbicide program choice based on what the weed spectrum is.  Weed control will likely start next week. The biggest issue to be aware of is overnight temperatures; herbicides should not be applied when lows drop below 5˚C, or when temperature swings more than 10˚C are expected in the day before and after application. The goal is to not stress the crop. If temperatures remain cool and spraying is necessary to keep on top of weed stages, avoid mixing herbicides and fungicides.

In the Renfrew area winter wheat that follows canola or oats is in really good shape, but following soybeans seems poor regardless of planting date. Early planting really made a difference. Standing residue stalks that provided an air bridge across the ice layer may also have contributed.

Manipulator plant growth regulator (PGR) has received registration for use in Canada on all spring cereals. It is registered for use in barley, oats, and spring cereals. Not all markets accept grain treated with PGRs, particularly malting barley and some oats, so growers should communicate with their buyer to determine if there is any issue with use of this product. Further work on PGR’s is happening at the University of Guelph Winchester Research Station this season to determine the impact of nitrogen rate and variety on efficacy and injury. There are differences in cereal variety sensitivity. The seed companies can make recommendations on this.

A research project on PGR’s in winter wheat is happening this year. A field protocol is available on for those interested in trying it themselves. The project is with Dave Hooker (UofG) and Joanna Follings (OMAFRA).

Fall Rye

There has been good success with fall rye in recent years. It is good for a cover crop, forage and seed. Fall rye is more cold-hardy than winter wheat and fits well between silage corn and soybeans in a rotation. As with winter wheat however, seeding date is important to survival and it does not tolerate ponding or “wet feet” much better than winter wheat.

Growing fall rye for spring silage is gaining popularity. After harvest, immediately plant soybeans into the stubble, which makes a good seedbed. Let the rye grow up before controlling with a glyphosate mix to ensure some leaf area is available for uptake. A rye pre-harvest treatment is not needed and less effective than post-harvest rye control.  Check soil moisture as the rye could have removed a lot of water. Monitor planting depth to ensure soybean seed gets into moisture.

Spring Cereals

Acreage looks like it’s going to be up at the expense of corn acres based on current pricing and market uncertainty. Some varieties are sold out. Some producers were placing big orders for seed this week. Most has been delivered but some variety switching is anticipated to start soon. Spring cereal acres are anticipated to be up by 25-40%.

Cereals acres are 80-90% planted across the region and all would have gone into excellent soil conditions. However, continued cool temperatures may delay emergence if we don’t get some heat soon.

Despite the cool weather, spring grain emergence has been happening within 7-10 days.








Lots of planters were rolling starting late last week and more so on the weekend. The amount planted across the region varies widely. People have been taking the time to ensure planters are well-tuned for the season. Over 75% of fertilizer is out the door and on the fields. As of Wednesday, estimates of corn planted range from 0-30%, varying by region and operation. Some producers are done, and others have yet to start. More acres seem to be planted in the far east. In the central part of the East Central region planting is as low as 1-5%.

With some very early planted corn under continued cool conditions there was some discussion of corn injury. This came up in both today and yesterday’s Exeter-Mt. Forest meeting. In general, the groups seemed to feel that although there is a potential risk, the soil is dry enough and the soil conditions are so good that everything should be okay.

There is some concern that shorter season areas will not have suitable seed supplies if replant in corn is needed. Short season materials from last year moved to longer season areas and the seed supply plans were not able to adjust to meet the dynamics of last spring’s market. But overall it was generally agreed that corn is going into such good conditions that there is unlikely to be need for much replant.

Soils seem quite dry on top across much of the region, but there is good soil moisture within the planting depth window. Ensure planting depth is at least 1.5” and into moisture.

There seemed to be a higher awareness of wire worms so something people should be looking for.









Regular occurrence of alfalfa winter kill is pushing some growers in the Ottawa Valley to investigate alternative forage crops. The worst area this year seems to be around St. Isidore and in the flat clay plains. There were a lot of summer seedings last season, and its expected there will be more this year. Some people are abandoning alfalfa and turning to forage soybeans. While it’s a difficult crop to grow and doesn’t ferment well, there are some large dairies with experience going back to 2013. It takes some intense management to do it right. Alternatives for higher-protein forage include red clover, cereal/pea mixtures, or Italian ryegrass with a good N fertility program. Straight grass stands are becoming more popular, but these need good nitrogen, phosphate, and potash fertility to deliver on yield and quality.

A lot of new seedings are being planted. Good soil conditions are making for good seedings but surface moisture may be low in areas, so a rain is welcome.

The cool weather is contributing to slow growth of established stands. On farm inventories are low and producers who are concerned that first cut will not provide the bulk needed should consider annual forage options to make up for any possible shortfall (some suggestions here).

There continues to be confusion around fall cutting. From an agronomy perspective, resting a hay crop in the fall for 6 weeks before anticipated first frost allows the plants to store energy in their lower stems and roots, which fuels regrowth in the spring and improves first cut yields. Heavy grass cover can cause smothering, so cutting a grass hay after a killing frost can minimize that risk. Alfalfa stems stay upright and will not smother itself, so a late fall cutting is not necessary. Some people prefer to leave these stems to trap snow and insulate the crowns, others cut to reduce the number of old stems in next year’s first cut. Despite the agronomy against fall cutting, the decision to cut hay in the fall rest period ultimately comes down to whether the farm needs the feed. If there is a need to cut hay during the rest period, producers should plan for winterkill in those fields and prepare to patch or terminate those stands in the spring.








It is surprising how many growers have started seeding soybeans even when they have not finished other spring crops that are usually seeded before soybeans. Soil conditions are so good that if corn ground is not ready people are going to soybean fields that are.

Some herbicides might be a little short, e.g. straight metribuzin, although co-pack options seem to be in sufficient supply. Weed control timing will be important as fleabane and other issues continue to be a problem.

There is a real need for dicamba stewardship. Less of a concern pre-emergence with the high rate, but the post-emergence application window and the issues that have happened elsewhere need to be addressed. There are lots of sensitive crops around that can’t take the dicamba injury. Producers and custom applicators need to read the labels and take the recommendations for nozzle selection, rate, and spray conditions seriously. If we all work on this, we can avoid the conflict and bad press that come with drift injury.

Further information on dicamba stewardship is printed on product labels and on page 237 of OMAFRA Pub75A.

Chris O. from Pioneer was asked to supply the URL for the Build Better Beans webinar. It can be accessed here.








Weed Control

Dr. Peter Sikkema of UG Ridgetown has shared results of his work on corn and soybean weed control program performance for glyphosate resistant Canada fleabane at a previous meeting. Those charts are available here.  

Additional information on control strategies for problem weeds are available starting on page 1 of the 2020 OMAFRA Pub75A

If needed to connect regarding these minutes or future meeting details please connect with one of:

Christine O’Reilly – – (705) 341-4899

Sebastian Belliard – – (613) 301-0897

Ian McDonald – – (519) 239-3473

Additional Resources:

Other Regional Ag Breakfast Meeting Minutes – available at FieldCropNews

OMAFRA Publications

Pub 75A (Field Crops) and 75B (Hort Crops) – Weed Control Guide

Pub 812 – Field Crop Protection Guide

Pub 611 – Soil Fertility Handbook

Pub  811 – Agronomy Guide

New tools for better understanding fertility and making fertilizer calculations are available:

OSCIA – Soil Test Manager App

OMAFRA AgriSuite which includes calculators for “Crop Nutrients”, “Organic Amendments (ie Manure)”, “Fertilizer Applications” and “Phosphorus Loss”

Mention was made of a new Agricultural BMP Project collaboration starting this year between Quinte Soil and Crop Regional Association, Trent U, U of Toronto, Lower Trent and Ganaraska CA’s. Details on that outlined below.