Crop Conditions – Week of April 10, 2023

These notes provide a collective summary of information highlights from the weekly breakfast meeting minutes with local crop consultants in Ontario. This week’s summary includes notes from meetings in Exeter, Simcoe and Winchester.

Spring conditions have arrived across Ontario this week and some tillage and field preparation has started in fields with light-textured soils. Manure application is also underway. Taking a manure sample at the time of application is recommended and will help fine-tune fertilizer needs. Several heavy rainfall events in early April have some producers concerned about the amount of soil erosion occurring in many fields, even those with winter cover and with high residue and no-till practices.

Figure 1: Nitrogen application on winter wheat

Nitrogen applications on winter wheat are just beginning as the temperatures warm and fields dry. Crops have come through the winter with good survival and stands appear thick with excellent tillering. Nitrogen application is later than other years resulting in some debate about the value of split applications. There is increased interest in nitrogen stabilizers/inhibitors as the fertilizer prices remain higher than anticipated. The YEN program (Yield Enhancement Network) has increased the farmer-to-farmer discussion around management ideas and practices that lead to high yields. The importance of fertilization for high productivity was underlined by the project results.

Forage crops have broken dormancy with recent warmer conditions, and winter survival seems good. A plant count is the “early warning system” to check how alfalfa has overwintered. The target number of healthy alfalfa plants per square foot varies depending on the age of he stand. Alfalfa stands thin naturally over time but can compensate because the crown of older plants is larger and sends up more shoots. If the stand does not meet the minimum plant count for its age, either overseed with clover or grasses, or terminate 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.

Corn acres look to be steady heading into planting season across the province. 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 specific management practices is still very important for the bottom line. A tool like’s Ontario Corn Nitrogen Calculator can help identify an economic rate. Click HERE to access this tool.

Corn rootworm and corn borer resistance is increasing across Ontario. Scouting is important in counties across the province. Crop rotation and rotation of Bt corn hybrids that target the same pests will help prevent resistance. More information is available HERE if corn rootworm or corn borer resistance is suspected.

Early indications are that there may be less soybean acres this season, however some soybeans could be planted ahead of corn depending on soil and weather conditions. Early applications of hormone-based herbicides will help prevent off-target movement. Growers must keep an eye on the calendar and weather conditions so that when more summer-like conditions occur, dicamba is no longer an option.

Figure 2: Waterhemp seedling

Weed control: Dandelions, chickweed, purple nettle, and other common spring weeds are already visible in many fields. Waterhemp continues to make weed control a challenge, especially as its range increases across Ontario and now there are populations in the province that have evolved resistance to 5 different modes of action. Since 2015, waterhemp, which is spread by seed, has moved 800 km across the province. Dr. Peter Sikkema shared some of his thoughts on weed control for waterhemp and fleabane heading into spring 2023 where the goal for weed control in general is to return zero weed seeds to the soil.

Waterhemp has many different biotypes, with different resistance profiles within a small geography. The difficulty is knowing the resistance profile within specific fields, since the waterhemp may not be resistant to every active ingredient within a herbicide group. For example, mesotrione applied POST gives 0 percent control of a 5-way resistant waterhemp while acuron applied PRE gives 100 percent control even though both herbicides contain active ingredients from Group 27. More detailed information on waterhemp can be found HERE.
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 glyphosate resistant Canada fleabane control in IP and RR soybeans. To prevent yield loss, it is important to include soil applied herbicides to provide residual control.

Agricorp Update:
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. Agricorp is reporting 858,000 ac of insured winter wheat this year
• Producers can still insure 2023 wheat crop for Production Insurance before May 10, 2023. Production insurance is required when enrolled in Risk Management programs
• Deadline to apply or make changes to coverage for Production Insurance and Risk Management-Grains & Oilseeds is May 10, 2023.
• Forage seeding plan has been updated:
o Standard new forage (more than 50% red clover or less than $35/ac seed value) and has a 35% deductible
o Premium new forage seeding plan (less than 50% red clover or seed value of at least $35/ac) and has a 10% deductible.
• Please visit to obtain up-to-date information.

Exeter Breakfast Meeting Highlights
• Winter wheat crops have come through the winter looking as good as any crop in recent memory. Thick stands with excellent tillering are resulting in stand counts as high as 80 to 100 stems/square foot. Fields have been too wet for significant nitrogen application, but split applications will begin
• Winter canola has also come through the winter in excellent condition.
• Early indications on crop plans suggest that corn acres are expected to be about the same as last year. High wheat acres are likely to be balanced with lower soybean acres, especially IP beans. Edible bean acres overall will likely be lower, however adzuki bean prices will likely result in proportionally more adzuki bean acres. Adzuki beans are not a good fit in fields with high soybean cyst nematode (SCN) numbers.
• Sulphur response trials on edible beans, soybeans and other crops suggest that sulphur response appears to be field specific and not easily predictable. Sandy soils should be more responsive. U of Guelph is working to develop a soil extractant for a reliable sulphur test in Ontario.

• Winter cereal stands have survived the winter well, despite large rains and ponded water in early April. Nitrogen application is beginning this week as field conditions allow, with some split applications but many on heavy textured soils planning just one application.
• Concerns about the amount of wide-spread soil erosion that occurred with heavy rains even where conservation practices exist have many growers wondering what more needs to be done to manage high water volumes.

Winchester Breakfast Meeting Highlights
• Wheat and cereal stands are greening up with strong growth and good survival. Some fertilizer may be applied towards weeks end.
• Alfalfa fields are just breaking dormancy and will require more heat before evaluating stand survival.
• Increased interest in winter canola based on better than anticipated survival in research plots and potential of winter canola to avoid heat stress from earlier flowing. Logistics concerns exist for trucking to delivery sites in Montreal or Hamilton or further for both canola and edible beans
• Corn acreage is anticipated to be similar to other years. Non-GMO acres are up, however, where corn borer concerns exist, some are switching back to GMO along with crop rotations to reduce potential damage.