Winter wheat is at Zadok’s growth stage 31 in many areas, especially if planted before mid-October. Early planted wheat has reached GS 32 in some regions and GS 33 in the deep southwest.
Nitrogen applications are largely completed, even on heavier-textured soils in Niagara and Lambton County. The focus has turned to herbicide and plant growth regulator (PGR) applications, where applicable. Manipulator and Moddus are labelled for application from growth stage 30 (stem elongation) to flag leaf (see wheat staging guide). When applied from GS 30-32, PGR’s have more effect on the lower stem, thus earlier applications give the best results. More PGR information can be found on Field Crop News.
There are reports of damaged stands due to wet conditions last fall. Older stands (3rd and 4th year) are particularly affected, as are stands that were cut late last year. Alfalfa between tiles on such fields lacks vigour and in other cases, portions of the field have been killed out (Figure 1). Affected fields are reported to be in Elgin, Oxford, Middlesex Counties. Stands in South Central and Eastern Ontario are generally in good shape.
There is now six inches of growth on alfalfa and it is time to do stem counts, which correlate to yield potential. Even if the plant count is okay, if the stem count is low (<40 stems/square foot with poor crown/root health), it is worth considering terminating the stand. The nitrogen credit for corn from a terminated forage stand with 50% legume content or more is at least 100 lbs-N/acre. Winter cereal forages will be approaching optimal timing for harvest soon in some regions. Livestock producers are reminded that if there is a conflict between forage harvest and planting corn or soybeans, the value lost through declining forage quality will be greater than delayed seeding.
Corn and Soybeans
Corn and soybean planting began late last week on lighter textured soils and is progressing rapidly on all but heavier textured soils. It is estimated that by the end of the week over 50% of acres in many areas will be planted. In some regions, closer to 80 or 90% of acres may be planted by some growers by this weekend. On heavier textured soils, corn planting is either partly started (e.g. 30% Chatham-Kent, <10% Essex) or has not started yet (e.g. Niagara).
Planting conditions are favourable from Eastern to Southwestern Ontario and have improved throughout the week. There are reports of soil getting hard on the surface due to dry conditions. These crusts are primarily being observed in clay-based soils (e.g. clay loams). There are also concerns of soil drying, given the sun, high temperatures and wind. Tilling soil too far ahead of planting is a concern in many areas, as are too many tillage passes. It is critical to conserve moisture and to ensure seed is placed at least ½-inch into moisture.
Given the dry conditions and long-term forecast in many parts of the province not calling for significant rainfall, surface applications of urea or urea ammonium nitrate (UAN) are at risk of volatilization. Full incorporation or the use of a urease inhibitor should be considered to reduce risk of nitrogen loss. The risk of nitrogen loss via denitrification (from saturated soils) is not high currently on most soils; however, this can change.
Spring cereal seeding has been taking place since late last week in many areas, including northeastern Ontario, in addition to early spring frost-seeding and late-April seeding that took place. In much of southwestern Ontario, seeding will wrap up by the end of the week. In some areas with significant winter wheat winterkill, spring cereals have been planted instead.
Winter canola should be bolting currently in Southwestern Ontario. In Essex County it is beginning to flower.
Ag Mental Health Resources
Farming is a stressful occupation at any time. While most of us are not trained in mental health, we understand the uniqueness of stress in agriculture.
The following article has agriculture focused mental health resources to share within our community or for ourselves if needed. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to family, friends, customers, or employees to support one another.