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Farming for profitability

Precision ag systems can take your ability to analyze profits way past yesterday’s cost-revenue calculations

By Ralph Pearce, Country Guide Production Editor

It’s been the mantra of agricultural economists, bankers and even agronomists for the past 20 years. “Know your cost of production.” At every podium at every conference, you can almost guarantee the question is going to get asked. How can a farmer farm successfully without knowing their cost of production?

We’re always told every successful corporate executive outside of agriculture knows the cost of their widgets or grommets, usually down to the last fraction of a penny.

Then the question comes again: Can agriculture afford to be different?

But agriculture HAS changed, especially in the past 10 to 15 years, maybe not because the idea of farming for profitability is so new (it isn’t) but because farmers now have the ability to measure specific properties on the farm, from fertility levels to soil organic matter percentages to cation exchange capacity.

Of course, farming has also changed because the numbers are getting so much more volatile, which puts additional pressure on farm decision-making, not just from year to year but sometimes from one week to the next.

“It’s not precision ag anymore, it’s agronomy.” — Mike Wilson, Advanced Agronomy Solutions Manager, Thompsons Limited

The equipment and systems used to support these decisions are far more complex than they were even five years ago, just as the complexity of our seed technologies has leapt ahead, with double- and triple-stacked traits as well as drought tolerance and above- and below-ground pest protection. It’s a new universe compared to when Bt genetics first hit the market in the early 1990s. Read more

Corn-Yield

Estimating Corn Yield


Early corn yield estimations are a great way to get out into your field and start to predict the yield of different varieties given the growing season. It allows a grower to start making harvest decisions, marketing decisions, and to estimate needed storage capacity.

How many spots should I sample from?

Generally doing a kernel count every 10-15 acres is recommended. For soils that are extremely variable, doing a kernel count every 5-10 acres would be beneficial. Select random spots in the field when walking through as you are trying to get the best representation of the field.

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Estimating Soybean Yield

Calculating soybean yields can be difficult. Plant spacing, soil types, environmental factors, insect and disease stress can all affect the final yield. Pod numbers, seeds per pod, and seed size will all control yield.

When do I begin counting?

The earliest time to begin yield counts is around R5-R6 stage with the R6 stage being preferred (a pod on any of the top four nodes of main stem full of seed.). By R6, all flowering will stop, pods have developed, and seeds in the pods are mostly filled. The accuracy of counts will always increase the closer you are to harvest.

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Keep treated seed and contaminants out of our food chain

With harvest upon us, we want to remind all Thompsons customers that we have a zero tolerance for treated seed or contaminants in ANY load of beans, grains, corn and edible beans coming into our facilities.

WARNING:

Zero tolerance for TREATED SEED occurring in grains, soybeans, corn and edible beans.

Make sure all equipment is thoroughly cleaned and inspected before using it for grain.

Under the Canada Grain Act:

A licensed grain handling facility, such as a licensed primary elevator, cannot:

TreatedSeedStickersReceive grain that is contaminated with treated seed or suspected to be contaminated or ship grain that is contaminated with treated seed or suspected to be contaminated.

A producer (or a person acting on a producer’s behalf) cannot deliver grain to a licensed facility that is contaminated with treated seed or suspected to be contaminated.

“It is unlawful to deliver grain that has been treated or infected with any poisonous substance or compound to this Elevator. Persons so charged will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law and held liable for any expense or loss incurred in the removal and disposition of grains so contaminated.”

Gibberella Ear Rot

Gibberella Ear Rot in corn

What is it?

Gibberella Ear Rot, or Red Ear Rot, is caused by the fungus, Gibberella zeae (Fusarium graminearum). This disease can occur throughout the U.S. Mid-West and Southern Ontario. The pathogen overwinters on corn, wheat and barley debris. Spores produced on the debris lead to infection during silking. Red Ear Rot is more prevalent when cool, wet weather occurs during the first 21 days after silking. Extended periods of rain in the fall, which delay dry down, increase the severity of the disease. Red Ear Rot will be most severe in fields where corn follows corn, or corn follows wheat that was affected by Fusarium head blight (scab), which is caused by the same pathogen. Read more

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Ear Rots in Corn


Ear rots can be difficult to control since weather conditions are critical to the disease development. Rots can establish any time after pollination in wounds created by insects, birds, machinery, and even hail. Rainy weather or heavy, prolonged dews often lead to ear rots in these wounded cobs.

Why are rots a concern?

The direct concern for ear rot disease is yield loss due to poor quality grain. In years when conditions favour development, large portions of fields can be affected. Once fields are infected, other management practices should be followed which can increase cost of harvesting, drying, and storing the grain.

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Stalk rots in corn

The distribution and prevalence of stalk rot diseases vary from year to year. However, the diseases are present in most years even though it may be at low levels. The majority of stalk rot damage in Ontario is caused by three fungi, Anthracnose, Gibberella and Fusarium. However, Diplodia and Pythium have also been observed.

Although these fungi cause different symptoms, their ultimate effect on the corn plant is the same. They reduce grain fill, stalk integrity, and accelerate senescence. The severity of this damage increases when the crop is under stress.

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