Cobourg + Winchester Agribusiness Breakfast Meeting Minutes – May 13, 2020

Below-seasonal temperatures was the underlying issue in this week’s call. Peterborough County and Kawartha Lakes seem to be the most delayed areas in central and eastern Ontario.

map of lowest temperatures in Ontario between May 5-11 2020
Lowest temperatures observed between May 5 and 11, 2020

Retailers have been able to keep up with customer demands. There was talk of fertilizer backlog at the ports, but so far this has not affected the supply chain in central and eastern Ontario.

Safety should always be the top priority. Although our safety conversations this spring have focused on slowing the spread of infectious disease, it is important to remember there are many other risks in agriculture too. Familiarity with a task or piece of equipment can make it harder to assess a hazard. More information on farm safety – for children, farmers, and farm workers – is available HERE. Accidents happen quickly and without warning. People need to keep safety top of mind during busy periods.


Reminder: Planting deadlines for spring-seeded grains and oilseeds are approaching. The full list can be found HERE. Much of the region covered on this call is either Area B or D. The deadline for planting spring cereals in Area B is May 15. In Area D, the spring wheat deadline is May 25, while the deadline for barley and oats is May 31.

Growers are asked to report their final acres to Agricorp as soon as they finish planting to reduce the volume of reports coming in at the June 30 reporting deadline. In addition, growers are encouraged to use the online reporting option where possible to reduce call volumes and wait times. Reports can be made by calling Agricorp at 1-888-247-4999, by email to or online at

To date, there have been 86 damage reports on winter wheat east of Toronto, covering 11,000 acres. These reports include both total and partial damage. In the same region there are reports of 2,750 acres of new forage seedings with winterkill damage. This is a lower acreage than in previous years.


The winter wheat crop looks very good overall. There has not been much growth in the last two weeks, but the crop has plenty of tillers. Stem elongation hasn’t started yet, so the wheat is fairly frost tolerant. Any injury will be most visible 5-7 days after a frost. More information on the cold-tolerance of cereals is available HERE. Nitrogen applications are mostly done.

Spring cereal planting is finished. There was some switching of corn acres to spring cereals. Disease pressure is currently low. Annual weeds are only just starting to emerge. While the critical weed-free period is before the 3-leaf stage, in many fields the weeds are not up yet so it is better to wait for warmer temperatures and actual weed pressure before spraying an herbicide.

Cereal leaf beetle (CLB) is regularly a pest challenge in a few pockets of southwestern Ontario. However, in recent years CLB has been observed at several Ontario Cereal Crops Committee trial locations across the province. The CLB survey has been launched to collect baseline data that will help track the spread of CLB and develop solutions to manage this pest. For more information on the survey, and to participate, click HERE.


Spring seeding of cool-season forages is nearly finished. Supply of sorghum-sudangrass seed is tight; growers are reminded that warm-season grasses won’t germinate until soil temperatures are above 12˚C. New alfalfa seedlings are most susceptible to frost injury between 2nd trifoliate and the end of contractile growth (crown formation), which usually takes 8-10 weeks. Autotoxicity is not present in establishment-year stands, so re-seeding or patching with alfalfa is an option if these stands are damaged.

Frost injury typically shows up 3-7 days after the frost. A hard frost may kill alfalfa stems, but the root system will be healthy, and the plant will start re-growing from the crown. Anyone unsure whether they are looking at winterkill or severe frost injury should dig up some roots for a health assessment. More information on scouting alfalfa is available HERE.

Cold, dry conditions have resulted in very slow growth in established hay fields and pastures.

Growers intending to apply Priaxor to alfalfa are reminded that it has a PHI of 14 days. Yield claims associated with Priaxor are based on a minimum of 21 days between application and harvest, with longer intervals offering greater dry matter accumulation. However, growers are reminded that prophylactic use of fungicide will hasten fungicide resistance, and larger increases in total available forage are possible by improving silo management to minimize shrink.

Flowering in grasses is linked to day length, while in alfalfa it is initiated by a combination of GDD accumulation (heat) and day length. This means that hay fields containing grass will mature at about the same time as normal. The cool conditions may result in lower-than-average yields of grass or mixed hay at first cut. Delaying first cut of mixed hay can improve yield by allowing more time for alfalfa to grow, but the rapid decline in grass quality will impact the quality of the forage.

The effects of fall management are evident in pastures. Fields that were grazed tightly in the fall have little growth, while paddocks that were rested are further along. Yields can be improved by applying 50 lbs N/acre.


With soil conditions fit for planting so early in the season, there was some hybrid switching to longer-season varieties than what was originally intended. This has freed up some of the shorter-season options that were in tight supply due to last year’s spring conditions.

Cold soils mean that germination has been slow. With heat in the forecast, agronomists are anticipating a lot of corn emergence in the next week. It takes approximately 180 CHUs from planting to emergence of a corn seedling. Corn went into fit ground in most places and overnight temperatures have not been as severe as further west. The corn should begin to emerge quickly based on warmer temperatures predicted for the coming week.


Planting progress on soybeans varies widely across the region. The cool weather has kept evaporation to a minimum, which has enabled growers to plant soybeans into moisture. A few days of warm weather could quickly dry out the soil, so rainfall is needed, particularly in areas that haven’t had much rain since April 1.

On average it takes 15 days for soybeans to emerge, although the range is typically 5-22 days. For soybeans that are not tolerant to dicamba (Xtend) or 2,4-D (Enlist) and where control of glyphosate-resistant Canada fleabane is needed, the application of herbicide programs that are effective on that weed (e.g. glyphosate + Eragon LQ + metribuzin + Merge) must be applied prior to soybean emergence and ideally prior to planting. If planting has already occurred, the herbicide program needs to be applied no later than 3 days after planting.