Cereals: Peter Johnson
Winter wheat fields continue to improve with warm rains and heat. Some fields originally destined for replant will be left, due to improved appearances and wet conditions for planting. Unfortunately, the combine will find those weak spots at harvest. Advanced wheat in the southwest is at second node (GS 32). If weed control is delayed due to wet weather, watch the crop stage. Once the flag leaf begins to emerge, herbicide applications become risky. With thin stands, this is not a good year to forgo weed control. Be sure to have herbicides applied before flag leaf emergence.
Spring cereal planting has made excellent progress over the last week. Early cereals are emerging uniformly. Acres appear stronger than anticipated, partly due to straw demand. Straw prices are expected to be high: values over 4-5 cents/pound in the swath may push livestock operations to use corn stalks as an alternative.
Forages: Joel Bagg/Jack Kyle
Alfalfa: Many fall cut alfalfa fields have delayed growth and will have reduced 1st-cut yields. When assessing alfalfa stands, as a general rule, at least 55 alfalfa stems per square foot provide a maximum yield. The critical level of 40 stems per square foot or less will result in a 25% yield reduction or more and should be rotated. Considerable acreage of winter injured alfalfa was repaired by no-tilling Italian ryegrass and seed supply has become limited. Westerwold ryegrass is a true annual that will head during the year of seeding, so timely harvest management is important. (“Annual Ryegrass For Stored Feed and Pasture” http://bit.ly/1oPtSKH ) A nitrogen application of 56kg/ha (50 lbs/acre) will improve ryegrass yields well.
Pasture growth has finally started. Many producers now have livestock on pasture; watch carefully that paddocks are not over grazed as the limited amount of grass can be quickly consumed. The first rotation is when pastures set for the remainder of the season. Do not over graze. Leaving 3 – 4 inches of grass behind will allow for rapid re-growth and the development of a strong stand. It may be necessary to move livestock twice a day for the first week or ten days to avoid over grazing.
Soybeans: Horst Bohner
Soybean seeding has been limited to date. Growers in Eastern Ontario and on lighter soil types have made some planting progress. Seed should not be seeded too deep because cooler soil temperatures will slow emergence. As long as the seed is set into moisture, a 2.5 cm (1”) seeding depth is sufficient in no-till. A 4 cm (1.5”) seeding depth is considered normal in worked ground, although seed should be put into moisture. Switching to shorter maturity beans than adapted varieties to a specific area is not recommended unless planting date is delayed past June 15th. Choosing a shorter day bean now is unnecessary and can significantly reduce yield potential even if winter wheat is to be seeded this fall.
Canola: Brian Hall
Canola planting has been at a standstill, with less than 20 per cent of intended acres planted. The ideal seeding depth is 1.75 cm (3/4 inch). If planting continues to be delayed, be aware that warmer temperatures and wind can dry a seedbed quickly and is often a culprit for poor emergence due to reduce seedling turgidity. Packing before planting can firm a loose seedbed to help control planting depth. Packing following planting can help conserve soil moisture and improve seed to soil contact. Ensure that seeding rate is high enough to establish a target of 7- 14 plants/ft2. Adjust seeding rate according to seed size. The target seeding rate for seed size of 5 gm/1000 seeds is 5.9 kg/ha (5.3 lbs/ac). Monitoring for swede midge should now occur. Swede midge emerging from overwintering sites have been detected. Swede midge updates and a management guide can be found on Ontario Canola Grower’s website.
Corn: Greg Stewart
Corn planting completion to date varies across the province, with the provincial estimate at 30%. Soil conditions at planting have been less than optimal in some areas. When drier weather returns growers should monitor fields to evaluate crusting and sidewall compaction issues. Rotary hoeing or harrowing may help if done in a timely fashion (usually sooner rather than later). Switching away from full season hybrids should be considered now only for short season areas (less than 2800 CHU, i.e. Hanover), switching should be considered on May 20-25 in areas rated at 2800-3200 CHU (i.e. Ottawa, London) and May 30 in areas over 3200 CHU (i.e. Ridgetown). All CHU map ratings are based on a May 1 start date. When suitable soil conditions are present for planting producers should consider not delaying planting in order to apply pre-plant nitrogen or incorporate herbicides. Experience with the Fluency Agent (FA) has highlighted the following points to facilitate use: shake the container prior to opening to loosen the FA; use a hand sieve to “dust” the FA on the seed to avoid clumps; when possible, thoroughly mix the seed after applying the FA.