Synopsis: A forecast of prolonged dry and warmer conditions have allowed spring planting to begin in earnest as soil conditions become fit. Soil conditions look dry on the surface, but some worked fields are coming up clumpy. Heavier soils have a 2-inch surface crust but still quite wet below the crust. Challenging conditions are a remnant from wet fall conditions.
Cereals: Spring cereal acreage is up due to poor fall conditions for winter wheat. Good progress is being made with spring cereal planting with most of the crop anticipated to be planted by midweek. Variable stands of winter wheat in some cases are being patched with spring wheat for feed. Good prices will result in some less-than-ideal fields being left and managed for best possible yields. Early planted wheat is at growth stage 31 where T1 fungicide and plant growth regulators (PGRs) are being applied.
Corn planting started on the weekend on lighter soils. Many fields have 80 percent of soil in good condition but waiting for the 20 percent that is still wet. A lot of corn can get planted in a short period of time so that by the end of the week most corn acres will be planted, and soybean planting will follow. Consultants cautioned to plant into soil moisture, especially in fields where planting is delayed a few days while seedbeds are being prepared.
Spring canola is being seeded as soil conditions permit. Winter canola is bolting, and some fields in the region are flowering while others are only knee high. Monitor for cabbage seedpod weevil but note that if the threshold of 2-4 weevil per sweep is met, control with an insecticide is ideally timed when pods are first formed and less than an inch in length. Swede Midge is typically not a problem in winter canola but could reduce branching on plants that are not fully branched prior to midge emergence in late May/early June.
Expected acreage of edible beans will be down. Planting generally occurs in early June when risk of frost is past and soil conditions are fit. The latest RealAg Edible Bean School features Meghan Moran on managing insect impact on yield and quality.
Forage stands are suffering from more winterkill than past several years. Prolonged wet fall conditions resulted in ponded areas and heaving, and tile-run alfalfa is evident on heavier soils. Hardest hit fields have many crowns with just 2 or 3 stems and tend to be the fields that have the most intensive harvest schedules and generally 3rd and 4th year stands. Fields harvested through the critical period also suffered more damage. Forage inventories will determine if stands will be seeded with Italian rye grass between the tile runs to thicken the stand or if they will be planted to an alternate crop. Peter Sikkema suggested that best control for red clover or alfalfa ahead of corn is with glyphosate and dicamba.
Weed control continues to focus on escapes of resistant weeds, especially fleabane and waterhemp. Consult Field Crop News for information on waterhemp identification, management and herbicide resistance testing. Waterhemp doesn’t spread as easily as fleabane, but when present will be a problem to control for many years. Growers should consider waterhemp when they find large patches of escaped weeds that look like hairless pigweed. Also, be on the lookout for waterhemp where equipment has been brought in from the US or from southern Ontario counties.