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The dollar value of soil, world record wheat, and down pressure decisions

We’re racing towards planting season, with field activity about to begin rocking and rolling.

Lessons from the new world wheat yield record, the value of soil and subsequent impact of erosion, cover crop management, corn planter down pressure, and more — it’s all in this week’s edition of The Word the RealAg agronomist Peter Johnson.

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Click to listen to the audio recording from Real Agriculture.

Summary

  • The value of soil – assuming Ontario price of $20,000/acre. 2 million pounds in top 6″soil is worth 1 cent a pound. How much does it cost to lose to wind erosion (and other forms)? Snirt (soil off the snow) — a tonne/acre (COULD be 3 tonnes per acre and you don’t really KNOW). That’s 6,600 lbs. or $66/acre. Maybe up to $100/acre.
  • World record wheat — 250 bu/ac of wheat on 29 acres in New Zealand. What can we learn? First, it’s irrigated wheat. Tissue test for micronutrients — should you follow suit? Expensive when not needed. When needed, a huge benefit. Overload on vitamins equals expensive pee.
  • Wheat doesn’t like wet feet — tile drainage is one way to control. Do we underestimate the impact of excess moisture on wheat?
  • Seeding rate — reduce tillering to boost yield? Did it work? Not necessarily. Durum wheat seeding rate eg in North Dakota, targeting 1.4 million live plants/ac, what’s the math to working back to seeds per ac? 32 live plants/sq ft. That’s plenty high in dry climates, can use up soil moisture by plant growth. Germination and mortality must be factored in 5% in dry soils, but can be 20-25% in wet conditions in Ontario.
  • Nitrogen rates and calculating credit from previous crop and manure…
  • Straw plugging and fusarium problems with airdrill in Manitoba. Derek’s wondering if fall tillage should be more aggressive. Does more tillage break down more residue? Likely not. Could cause more plugging, first of all. Need to ensure rotation isn’t contributing to fusarium problem.
  • FHB in rye before potatoes — yes, rye also gets fusarium. Recommended 60 lb of N unless a hybrid.
  • Moist soils and N options — 50% urea, 50% treated with ESN scenario — in wet weather, side band has higher losses than a deep band (that’s because of soil bugs are closer to surface.) How does temperature contribute to urea gassing off and role for Agrotain?
  • Cover crops seeding into corn — which species? Annual ryegrass can tolerate shade from corn.
  • Seeding grass into RR alfalfa — grass seed will establish anytime there’s enough moisture. Kill weeds in alfalfa stand, broadcast orchardgrass a few days later. Less competition from alfalfa, the better for establishing grass.
  • Active down pressure on a corn planter  — is it really that big of a deal? Flag test data shows big yield implications of having every plant come up on time. On only 300 acres, very little yield impact when seeding under reasonable conditions. Big win is in tacky areas of field, which are hopefully less than 10 percent of field.

 


Source: Real Agriculture: Wheat Pete’s Word by Peter Johnson

London soybean farmers hope to match record set by wheat crop

By John Miner, The London Free Press


After harvesting a record wheat crop earlier this summer, some farmers in the London region are looking at scoring a repeat with soybeans.

“Soybeans are much better than anyone anticipated. Many people in the London area are having record yields,” Peter Johnson, a Southwestern Ontario-based agronomist with Real Agriculture, said Wednesday.

Soybeans are Ontario’s biggest cash crop with sales in 2015 at the farm gate exceeding $1.4 billion. In Middlesex County, soybeans typically bring in more than $100 million a year.

While the London region and much of Southwestern Ontario fared well, it wasn’t the same story in the Niagara Peninsula where it remained dry through most of August. Read more

wheat seedlings

Can winter wheat get too big?

Source: Wheat School on RealAgriculture.com.


Ontario’s winter wheat crop is growing like gangbusters thanks to unseasonably warm fall temperatures. But could it grow too much?

“No way,” says agronomist Peter Johnson in Real Agriculture’s latest Wheat School episode. “The only thing we have to worry about is if it’s still growing on Christmas Eve, like last year.” In that case growers may have to adjust spring nitrogen rates.

The 2016 wheat crop benefitted greatly from early planting to produce a record 96.7 bushels per acre. Johnson has encouraged growers to plant early again this spring, but many have asked whether plants could get too big as good growing conditions persist.

In this episode, Johnson looks at a fast growing wheat field and concludes that the plants can still add more tillers. He says last year many plants had 10 to 12 tillers and he’s seen nowhere near that number in fields he’s scouted this fall.

“Well advanced wheat in the fall makes you money next spring,” says Johnson. “This is a an awesome crop.”

US corn sowings ideas wane, as futures underperform

Investors appear to be trimming expectations for the growth US corn sowings this year, as a key report looms, with futures markets boost the incentive for farmers to raise plantings of rival soybeans.

Rabobank on Thursday forecast a rise of 1m-1.5m acres in US corn plantings, from the 88.4m acres seeded last year.

And separately, US-based Global Commodity Analytics, citing results of a limited farmer survey, pegged seedings at 89.4m acres.

Earlier this week, Societe Generale put corn seedings at 89.0m acres, while Informa Economics on Friady pegged area at 89.5m acres.

Although all these forecasts would see US farmers raise sowings of the grain for the first time in four years, the estimates are below the 90.0m acres at which the US Department of Agriculture pegged seedings in an initial estimate last month.

An Allendale report last week did come in with a more upbeat estimate for corn sowings, of 90.4m acres. Read more

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

Managing Fusarium Head Blight at harvest

Fursarium Spores WheatThe less infected kernels that go into storage the better, and the greater of a chance a grower will have for not getting docked to a lower grade of wheat.

Combine tips and notes

  • Higher fan speeds are needed to blow infected kernels out the back. Ridgetown College has done studies on fan speeds, and there is a tenfold decrease in the amount of Fusarium damaged kernels in a sample when the fan speed is at maximum blast. But with that comes challenges of losing good healthy kernels.
  • Research from Ohio State showed combine fan speeds between 1375 and 1475 RPM and the shutter opening at 3.5 inches received the lowest discounts at elevators from FHB damaged wheat kernels and DON levels in the harvested grain.
  • Reduce combine speed. Having the combine traveling at a slower speed, will allow better separation between the good and bad kernels.
  • In fields which are severely affected by leaf diseases, the lower test weight of the grain may make it more difficult to separate normal kernels from Fusarium damaged kernels.

Read more

Fusarium Head Blight

Fusarium head blight

What is it? Fusarium Head Blight is a fungal disease that affects the head of small grain crops. Also referred to as Scab, it can affect wheat, barley, oats, rye, corn, and triticale. Wheat and barley are generally the most affected. It is mainly caused by the species Fusarium graminearum, and can cause loss of […]

Wheat leaf diseases

What increases the risk of infection?

  • Cool temperatures.
  • Prolonged periods of wet weather.
  • Rust problems in the southern US states and Mexico could mean the same for Ontario as storm systems carry the spores north.
  • Planting susceptible varieties.Planting after another cereal or corn crop.
Percentage of wheat plant affected photo

How do I know when to apply a fungicide?

The higher the price of wheat, the more economical treatment is. In general, if trace amounts of rust, powdery mildew, or leaf spot are Read more