Crop Conditions – April 6, 2023

Quotes of the week:

“Zero weed seed return is the GOAL!” – Dr. Peter Sikkema

“Rotation is the 1st R, not the 5th.” – Peter Johnson

The first agribusiness breakfast meeting of the season and first in-person since 2019, was held in Ridgetown on April 4, 2023.  The Ridgetown Ag breakfast meetings will alternate between in-person and virtual for the 2023 season.  Please get in touch with for the meeting schedules and to sign up for email notices.

In general, spring seems to be shaping up well.  No issues in respect to supply of seed, fertilizer or crop protection products were reported but may be some switching of options in-season.  A relatively dry winter has led to apprehension of the potential for dry soils heading into the spring, but recent heavy rains have alleviated those concerns in the southwest.  Concerns around interest rates, labour, etc. but overall, growers are fairly optimistic, and many have locked in good prices for 2023.

Wheat crop acres estimates range from 1.334 million acres (Stats Canada) to 1.16 million acres (Agricorp).  Corn acres flat with soybeans expected to decrease by 4%.  White and navy bean acres will be down although azuki beans may increase.

Winter wheat:

The winter wheat crop looks very good at this point in the spring.  Fields have begun greening up with the increase in temperatures, and a few growers have applied nitrogen.  General comments were:

  • One of the best-looking wheat crops to date in the southwest
  • Excellent fall planting conditions lead to an increase in planted wheat acres
  • Very limited winterkill, but monitor fields for impact from recent heavy rains  
  • Some minor issues of droughty fall soils leading to damage claims in insured wheat
    • Quite possible wheat may have germinated and could still make a crop
    • Requires assessment in spring
  • Wheat acres have increased, likely at the expense of soybean and edible bean acres

YEN program:

The YEN program has brought some excitement into the potential of high-yielding winter wheat especially over the past year and leading into 2023.  Farmer-to-farmer discussion has been a big draw and has encouraged sharing of management ideas and practices. 

  • Record average wheat yield of 99.7 bu/ac in 2022 shows potential when managed for high productivity. 
  • Data shows importance of fertilization:
    • Top growers applying more than 120 lb N/ac, closer to 135 lb N/ac in many cases

Peter Johnson shared some of his recent work regarding nutrient uptake and partitioning in wheat.  Wheat requires most of its total sulphur earlier in its growth than compared to corn.  Of the total S taken up by the plant, 90% occurs before anthesis in winter wheat.


Corn acres look to be steady heading into planting season.  There is some effort underway to better understand and improve nitrogen recommendations using a variety of tools and testing methods both new and old:

  • Split application
  • Pre-sidedress Nitrate Testing (PSNT)
  • Delta yield estimates

With fertilizer prices still well above a 5-year average, identifying the best rate that fits with your management is still very important for the bottom line.  A tool like’s Ontario Corn Nitrogen Calculator can help identify a rate that fits with today’s economics.  Click HERE to access this free tool.


Soybean acres look to be down slightly heading into the spring.  Comments stressing the importance of early application (NOT a late 1st pass) of dicamba in soybeans were brought up.  Early application is much safer in terms of off-target movement, and growers must keep an eye on the calendar and weather conditions.  Once the weather starts to turn, take dicamba out of the conversation.

Edible Beans:

Edible bean acres are trending down in the province heading into spring, except for azuki bean. Exceptional harvest conditions and good quality in 2022 means there is a good supply of most edible beans in the market currently which has put pressure on acres.

Chris Gillard shared some results of his recent research with sulphur application in edible beans:

  • 17 replicated sites, including 13 on-farm trials over 2 years
  • Comparison of 0 and 20 lb S/ac from potassium sulphate, with the potassium balanced in the untreated check using potassium chloride
  • Research station trials used multiple rates of 0, 10, 20, 30, of 40 lb S/ac
  • Results showed no yield response, regardless of rate applied
    • No measurable improvement in growth
    • Sulphur content in the seed was increased

Horticulture crops:

Acres looking flat for processing tomatoes and sugar beets.  Geography continues to change for tomato production, as some fields are now stretching into Middlesex, Elgin and south Lambton, with fewer acres in Essex. 

Joe Tomecek stressed the importance of applied research for horticulture as well as field crops is critical to answer and guide management decisions.  It is necessary to invest and allocate resources to maintain a robust applied research capacity!

Weed control:

Waterhemp continues to make weed control a challenge, especially as its range increases across Ontario and we now have populations in the province that have evolved resistance to 5 different modes of action.  In 8 growing seasons, waterhemp has moved 800 km across the province – an astounding pace for a weed that is spread by seed.

Dr. Peter Sikkema shared some of his thoughts on weed control heading into spring 2023:

  • Goal for weed control in general should be ZERO weed seed return to the soil
  • Waterhemp:
    • Complex situation, with many different biotypes appearing with different resistance profiles within small areas
    • Often don’t know the resistance profile in any given field 
    • Resistance may not be to every active ingredient within a herbicide group
      • For example, mesotrione applied POST gives 0% control of 5-way resistant waterhemp
      • Acuron applied PRE gives 100% control
      • Both contain group 27 active ingredients
    • Population in Essex County is the same genetically as a population in Missouri
  • Canada Fleabane:
    • Always requires 2 modes of action for control:
      • 2,4-D, dicamba, and Eragon are too inconsistent on their own
    • Eragon plus metribuzin is the basis for GR Canada fleabane control in IP and RR soybean
  • Importance of soil-applied herbicides:
    • Without residual herbicides, you may be leaving yield on the table

It is especially difficult to tell what the yield loss is in corn when growers skip an early-season weed control program. It often takes a disaster for growers to change herbicide programs.

  • “To not have a plan is to set yourself up for failure.”

More detailed information on waterhemp can be found HERE.


Through the Southwest, South Central, and Niagara Regions, there have been 23 reports of damage to date, totaling 3423 acres. This equates to just over 1% of the total insured acres in the three regions.

  • Producers can still insure 2023 wheat crop for Production Insurance before May 10, 2023.
  • Deadline to apply or make changes to coverage for Production Insurance and Risk Management-Grains & Oilseeds is May 10, 2023.