Author Archives: buddc

Debates Continue About Benefit Of Extra Nitrogen On Soybeans

Legume crops such as soybeans and field peas can fix their own nitrogen from the atmosphere via a relationship with certain soil bacteria. Farmers including an inoculum of the bacteria with the seed at planting promote this natural relationship. However, the amount of nitrogen the bacteria provide can depend on many factors including residual nitrogen in the soil, weather, and soil conditions.

There is debate on whether bacteria can provide enough nitrogen to soybeans for maximum yield potential or not. A lot of energy is required to generate nodules (root structures for bacteria to provide nitrogen) on soybeans and when nitrogen is available from application or residual in the soil, crop growth may be greater pushing yield potential. In addition there is debate on the optimum application timing of nitrogen on soybeans. At planting could increase early growth and later in season may help push yield.

With discussion around applying potassium and micronutrients later in the growing season it makes sense to be considering nitrogen requirements too. I think that farmers should try a couple of areas in their fields and see if differences were made. Throw down some nitrogen at planting, put some down in season in another strip and as always leave an untreated check to compare the treatments. It comes down to market prices though. In the past prices have been good and pushing yield potentials with nitrogen could pencil out but with low prices or poor growing conditions they probably won’t.


Corn Isn’t Off But Farmers Should Try To Finish

The last field crop to be harvested in Ontario is generally grain corn. This harvest window can vary in ease depending on the weather conditions throughout the fall and early winter. Farmers try to harvest corn when the ground is dry enough for heavy equipment to be on and not compact the soil or impact soil structure. Also, farmers try to harvest their corn before storms with high winds move in threatening to blow corn down loosing yield and making harvest difficult.

This season has been difficult for harvesting soybeans and corn. The cornfields are generally too wet to move into without causing soil compaction due to rain every couple of days. As a result there is still a lot of the Ontario corn crop left in the field as farmers wait for their wetter fields to dry up. While waiting we have had several storms move in with high winds threatening the standability of that corn. Surprisingly corn standability has been good in some areas that may be due to genetics in new hybrid varieties.

Looking at the forecast I think that farmers should be on the move now trying to get the crop off as the days of heat are over lets just get the job done. With the below freezing temperatures lately maybe some fields will be more stable but if not plan to minimize the compaction as some Ontario agronomists have suggested. Control your field traffic and make more trips across with lighter loads.

Corn Fungicides Can Pay, This Year Should Generate Good Results.

Not every year has the same result in crop disease and pest pressures, moisture amounts and yield. Because of this different practices should be tried and different varieties of crops grown to act as a buffer against Mother Nature who is always unpredictable. What I mean is don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Some years may be drier and better for corn and cereal grown while another such as this year, may be wet and better for beans.

A newer venture to protect against Mother Nature in corn is by applying a fungicide to reduce disease incidence and ultimately increase yield. Many growers in Ontario have tried this but others are still skeptical. On average many products registered on corn show good control of foliar diseases that can affect corn standability and yield but these diseases are more prevalent in wet growing seasons making applications in dry years less effective and even costly by not paying off.

With my experience in crop protection, I have seen fungicide on corn pay off and not. What I always recommend with any new practice for farmers is to do a trial in their own field. Each farm’s crop rotations and management decisions are different and so a fungicide can act differently on different farms. I encouraged my dad to do a trial this year and he decided not to, now he wishes he did because of the wet season we had. What were your results this year? Comment please.

Explore Canadian Agriculture Through Summer Jobs!

It’s the time of year when students are applying for summer or full time jobs, going to interviews and making important life decisions. This is a very exciting time for students as these opportunities help further learning and allow them to gain experience in their fields of interest. For agriculture students looking for summer employment, there are always many job opportunities and these allow students to get a better understanding of what interests them the most for future studies and careers.

In a four-year agricultural degree program students typically take advantage of 3 summer jobs before moving on to a career, and because of this they should explore the opportunities available. Not only are there many opportunities in Ontario, but also in the prairies or even the United States. Why should Ontario agriculture students seek summer jobs outside of the province? It’s because of how diverse agriculture is in different regions and that knowledge and experience cannot be gained by only to class.

I can strongly state that students need to get out of Ontario. This past summer I worked as a technical sales rep for a crop protection company and learned more about Canadian agriculture then I thought possible. Before then I had only worked in Ontario on a research farm for two summers and needed a new experience. Not only was the different job type an excellent choice but leaving Ontario made me realize how there are many different agricultural practices. Once again, get out and explore agriculture!

Get Kids Interested in Agriculture With Pumpkins!

In Canada, many people enjoy pumpkins during the fall season one way or another. A few weeks ago many families would have enjoyed pumpkins as pies, tarts, muffins or other desserts. Yesterday pumpkins would have been enjoyed as jack-o-lanterns carved in scary or funny ways to enjoy Halloween and during the entire fall season, pumpkins and gourds are enjoyed for decoration.

 The largest pumpkin producing area in Canada is Norfolk County with its light sandy loam to almost beach sand soils. This is prime ground for pumpkin and gourd growing, but heavy clay soils work well too as friends of mine produce pumpkins in Essex County. Regardless of prime conditions, growing pumpkins can be a great way to get kids interested in agriculture! All parents should consider growing pumpkins with their kids next year. Whether you’re an experienced farmer, or someone with a garden, pumpkins can be fun for everyone!

 If you are from a farm, then it shouldn’t be very difficult to help out your kids establish their own pumpkin patch. If you only have a small property, use part of your garden to grow some pumpkins to make your own pies and kids jack-o-lanterns. If there are some fruits leftover, and I’m sure there will be, let your kids setup a road stand. There are few experiences for kids or the kid at heart, then growing your own food, taking what you need and then selling the rest yourself to hopefully make a profit. 

Is the Sun Coming Out, Tomorrow?

The fall harvest moves along as we approach Halloween. Normally in southwestern Ontario, farmers would like to have their soybeans harvested, winter wheat planted and be in the cornfields at this time. Last year corn harvest started early but it doesn’t seem to be the case for most of southern Ontario this year. As many growers look to the weather forecast, they begin to get anxious since they aren’t as far into harvest this year as last year.

During this fall in southwestern Ontario, there has been a high amount of rainfall delaying the harvest season for many farmers. There are still quite a few soybean fields around that haven’t been harvested yet because they don’t get enough sun to dry out again. As a result, winter wheat planting has been delayed in many fields. Some of the earlier planted fields have a nice crop of wheat growing in them, while others that have been delayed will have a much smaller root mass going into the winter.

On our farm there is still some custom work that we’ve wanted to finish, being soybean harvest. For us it means wanting to get the combine ready for corn as time marches on and for the growers it means getting worried it will be too late to plant their winter wheat. Peter Johnson from OMAF mentioned on twitter though that wheat could still be planted up until mid November, which means there is still time for many growers. All we can do is look to the forecast and hope things dry up, because even once the soybeans are all harvested the corn still needs to dry down a lot from 28% in our fields. Regardless, please have a safe harvest. 

Reduce Weed Populations and Resistance Using Cover Crops

As farmers we need to make management decisions to reduce the spread of herbicide resistant weeds in Ontario. Sure you could change up your herbicide routine and have a good crop rotation, both of which are very good practices, but there are other tools to reduce resistance.  Try growing cover crops next year to help reduce weed populations in your fields.

Did you know that just one Canada Fleabane plant could produce over 200,000 very mobile seeds? And if it was glyphosate resistant then it just made a very large problem for you and your neighbors. By keeping the soil covered using a cover crop, weed seed germination can be significantly reduced saving costs on fuel and herbicides all while improving soil structure. That’s the other benefit to using cover crops, the ones you already have heard time and time again on improved soil structure, organic matter, nutrient retention, and reduced erosion.

I think all Ontario farmers should include cover crops into their system where they can. With resistant weeds spreading and all of the benefits that cover crops provide, I don’t understand why I still see a wheat field in the fall growing a good-looking crop of weeds rather then a cover crop such as red clover. I’m especially worried when I see my neighbour’s field prospering with Canada Fleabane and knowing that those seeds are landing in my fields. Farming has always been a communal way of life and when it comes to resistance management we need to help each other if we are to help ourselves.