It snowed across much of the province on April 18th. Most areas have not completed much field work yet, though some of the southern-most counties have started applying nitrogen to winter wheat.
While many parts of the province still have not had enough warm weather for accurate winter wheat stand assessments, in general earlier planted winter wheat looks healthier, while late planted winter wheat does not have tillers. Low-lying, poor draining, and compacted parts of fields are less vigorous than the rest of the stand.
Typical cool, spring temperatures mean that mineralization of nitrogen and sulphur is slow, and it could be valuable to have nitrogen applied when winter wheat starts actively growing. Splitting nitrogen applications should minimize nitrogen (N) losses and target application to when the crop needs it. It makes sense to plan on split N applications on fields where winter wheat has not yet tillered, and where a plant growth regulator (PGR) application is planned. More information on split N applications can be found on FieldCropNews.com.
Hay fields and pastures are greening up in the southwest, while east of the Greater Toronto Area it is a little too early to know how well sensitive species overwintered. Plant counts are the “early warning system” that indicate whether an alfalfa stand should be terminated. These can be done shortly after alfalfa breaks dormancy. Details on plant count methods and thresholds can be found on FieldCropNews.com.
Since harvest costs per acre do not significantly change with yield, maintaining high-yielding stands keeps the cost per tonne of forage low. With forage inventories in good shape, producers may choose to terminate and rotate out some stands that in tighter years they may have kept, and establish new alfalfa stands in other fields. In areas where hay crop rotation depends more on stand health than stand age, strong inventories are encouraging shorter hay rotations that keep yield potential high, since the risks associated with lower yields in an establishment year are offset by forage still in storage.
Winter cereals for forage (fall rye, winter triticale) benefit from an early spring nitrogen application. Apply 55-80 kg N/ha (50-70 lb/acre) at green-up to improve yields and crude protein content. Avoid over-application to reduce the risk of nitrate poisoning in livestock.
Winter canola generally looks good, although there hasn’t been a lot of growth yet this spring. Some areas that received significant amounts of rainfall in September and October had poor canola growth in the fall, or plants did not set deep roots, so winter survival was more of a challenge in those wet fields. There have also been quite a few growers trying winter canola in no-till or high residue fields who have seen significant losses to slugs in the fall.
Spring canola seeding could begin soon but temperatures are still low at night. Canola will germinate and grow at temperatures as low as 2˚C, but 10˚C is ideal for rapid emergence. Aim for seeding when forecasted temperatures are 5˚C or higher.
Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) and Biosecurity
There are now confirmed cases of avian influenza in Ontario. To prevent the spread of avian influenza, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency sets up control zones in areas where it has been identified. More information on avian influenza movement control permissions is available on the CFIA website. Industry can also sign up to receive updates from the Feather Board Command Centre as the situation evolves.
This disease has been brought into Ontario by migratory birds moving north into Canada and it poses a threat to both the commercial poultry sectors and small backyard flocks. As the crop sector scouts fields and moves field equipment around, we can do our part to reduce the spread of avian influenza by cleaning and disinfecting boots, equipment, and vehicles when we enter and leave farms. This helps prevent domestic birds from encountering wild bird feces, which can carry avian influenza.
Cleaning with common cleaning agents such as detergents that removes viruses found on contaminated surfaces is recommended. Disinfection inactivates disease-producing micro-organisms and can generally be achieved by using one part household bleach with 9 parts water, 70% alcohol, or commercial disinfectants following the manufacturer’s instructions for use. Visibly dirty surfaces should be cleaned with detergent and water prior to use of disinfectants.
Please call Canadian Cooperative Wildlife Health Centre at 1-800-567-2033 to report the finding of sick or dead wild birds.