Cobourg-Winchester Breakfast Meeting Minutes – May 12, 2021

Overall Conditions

A quiet breakfast meeting usually means fields are busy, and indeed that was the case this week. There have been showers across region over the past couple of weeks, but very scattered. This has slowed down planting progress where rains have been heavier. On average, moisture levels have been good but temperatures remain low, particularly overnight, leading to slower crop growth. Forecasts are optimistic though, so field operations are going full force where soils are fit.


Cold nights have slowed GDD accumulation and wheat growth. Most winter wheat is into the stem elongation phase, growth stage 31-32. Spring cereals are between 3- to 4-leaf stage while others are just starting to tiller. While the mercury has dropped below zero in some areas, there has been no significant frost damage. Only two damage reports were submitted to Agricorp, and one reseed.

Weed control has been held up by low temperatures, and in some cases by rains. Annual weeds are starting to show up, but it is not too late to control these. Perennials are somewhat more concerning and should be addressed as soon as possible. Ideally, perennial weeds should be controlled in the fall.

Powdery mildew has been reported in pockets of Grey and Bruce counties, but not in our region. While risk is low, scouting is still recommended.


Planting has ramped up quickly in the past week, though progress is variable based mostly on soil type and rainfall. Corn planted in late April has started to emerge is some areas.

Some fields have had pre-emergence herbicides applied, but weather has been too cold or windy for burn downs.






Progress in soybeans is similar to corn – many acres have been planted in the past week, and April-planted soybeans have started to emerge in some fields. While soils have been chilly, moisture conditions were right to avoid most damage to seed sitting in the ground.




The forage crops have progressed more slowly with recent lower temperatures. Frost damage has been minimal.

Overall, forage yields are expected to be above average considering the quality of stands and very limited winterkill. In mixed stands, grasses have grown more quickly than alfalfa due to differences in base growing degree days. When making decisions on harvest timing, remember that grasses lose quality more quickly than alfalfa.

Alfalfa weevil has been spotted in the southwest; scouting is recommended. Some fields have had fungicide applied to control brown spot.

Good conditions early on saw some producers turning out to pasture early. Cold temperatures have since slowed regrowth. Producers may need to provide longer rest periods to the grass to allow for full recovery before the next rotation.This can be achieved by providing supplemental forage, finding additional acres to graze, or a combination of the two.



As mentioned, weather conditions have not been conducive to spring weed control. Fields where weed control was done in the spring are looking much cleaner, of dandelions and fleabane especially.

Research has shown that Canada fleabane rosettes act as a “solar capture device” and leaf temperatures can be 10°C above air temperature, giving them a boost in this type of weather. Canada fleabane is close to bolting, making control more challenging. Coverage and air temperature become more important factors of success. Water volumes should be increased and spraying targeted for warmer hours of the day (11am – 4pm).

Waterhemp has been identified in Grenville and Glengarry counties, as well as in Quebec.



Reminder that damage reports must be submitted to Agricorp head office in Guelph.

Deadlines to remember:

May 17 – applications, changes, and payments for forage rainfall insurance

May 31 – grains & oilseeds production insurance application deadline


General Agronomy Discussion

  1. When dandelions and glyphosate-resistant (GR) fleabane are in the same field and dandelions are big, should glyphosate rates be increased to ensure translocation happens before Eragon burns the leaves?

Eragon is not likely to inhibit glyphosate translocation in dandelions, but it will take time for it to work. Expect to see dandelions sticking around for up to a month before the herbicide does its job. Also, consider the crop – stick to a single rate before soybeans, though you can safely increase the rate before corn.

Fleabane will grow back after a group 14 (e.g. Eragon) application. Elevore is another option to consider for pre-plant application. Metribuzin could be tank-mixed, but remember that it antagonizes glyphosate so glyphosate rates should be increased to compensate.

See Chapter 1 of OMAFRA publication 75A – Guide to Weed Control for strategies on managing these species.

  1. In a 20-year no-till field, a grower is experienced slug issues after recently adding cover crops to the system. Is tillage and tossing the covers the only option?

Strip tilling the cover crop or planning cover crop biostrips with a winterkilled mix in the crop row should be tried first. There should be enough “bare” soil in those strips to reduce slug damage if the crop comes up quickly. Alternatively, the cover crop could be terminated in the fall to burn the “green bridge”.

Seed treatment should also be considered through an IPM lens. Insecticide-treated seed decimates predatory ground beetle populations that control slugs and other pests. Slugs are typically not an issue in long-term no-till fields as ground beetle populations have time to build up, so seed treatment could be the culprit. Try untreated seed before giving up on cover crops. Changing practices, like adding cover crops, often requires adjustments to other elements of the production system.

Other Updates

A New Soil Health Tool

The OMAFRA Soil Team has been working to develop a Soil Health Assessment and Planning tool (SHAP). The SHAP incorporates a range of methods for assessing soil health, including production system evaluation, risk assessments, and laboratory analyses. It is meant as a guide to support advisors in responding to farmers’ needs for soil health assessment, and as a framework for developing a soil health management plan.

The lab analyses are “new” to Ontario and scoring functions need to be created to interpret them for Ontario soils. To do this, we need a database of lab results from different soil types. As part of building the database, we will be contracting an Ontario soil testing lab to analyze soil samples for the SHAP indicator set. We are inviting interested CCAs to send in samples from clients’ fields to be tested.

If interested or for any questions, contact Sebastian Belliard, Soil Management Specialist.

Ontario Forage Network

The Ontario Forage Council, Ontario Hay Listings, Ontario Biomass Producers Co-op, and the Ontario Hay and Forage Co-operative have collaborated websites to bring you the Ontario Forage Network!

The new website is the online hub for forage, pasture and biomass crop production in the province. Here you can find information on seeding, growing, harvesting, storing, and marketing these crops. The network is a partnership between the Ontario Forage Council, the Ontario Hay & Forage Co-op, and the Ontario Biomass Producers Co-op.

From this new site, you will be able to browse products available from the co-operatives and learn about their end use markets, see upcoming events and news, post an add, become a member, and more! Finding any one of these organizations is easy; just search their previous domain, and you will be directed to the right page on the network.

The Ontario Hay Listings is also getting a makeover! Until now, only hay, straw and biomass ads have been permitted. We have expanded the categories to include everything from manure exchange to the labour to shovel it! This area of the site is still in development, so if you have something to advertise that isn’t included, please let us know.

A second phase of this project is underway to add a permanent home for the domain. This area will be dedicated to forage research, technical, and agronomy information from a variety of sources.