Cathy loves her flowers, so I thought it would be nice to include these pictures of Steve Bradley's Pioneer sunflowers. Steve has been growing them for birdseed for about 5 years. Sunflowers are the world's most beautiful crop at this time of year.
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
These are western bean cutworm adult moths retrieved from the pheromone trap located across the road from our warehouse. These 10 moths are from the night of July 27, the largest one night catch of the past week. We have retrieved 35 moths from the trap so far this year. This is not a big number. Heavy moth flights can produce trap counts in the 100's. The moth flight numbers should peak this week.
The moths are attracted to the trap by a pheromone located in the cap of the jug. They then fall into a windshield washer mixture in the bottom.
This is a close up of a western bean cutworm moth. The key identifying features are the white bands along the leading edge of the wings and semi circular patterns behind the white band. The markings on the moth's wings are fading quickly because the windshield washer mix is very warm.
Friday, July 23, 2010
This is a picture of a western bean cutworm trap positioned by our Impact Plot. OMAFRA crop reports have been highlighting the increases in trap counts for the last month. A new bug gives agronomists something to talk about, which can lead us to think we about to be overwhelmed by this latest threat.
The western bean cutworm is a relative newcomer to the local crop scene. It was first detected in Ontario in 2008 and has been steadily increasing since then. This pest first appeared in Colorado, hence the name "western". It also feeds on edible beans. The western bean cutworm has been able to flourish because the european corn borer has been eliminated as a threat in most corn fields, thanks to Bt technology. To make a complicated story short, the corn borer larvae would eat the western bean cutworm larvae for breakfast, so as long as european corn borer were present, the western bean cutworm would never survive. Removing the corn borer gave the western bean cutworm an open door.
This is a picture of western bean cutworm eggs taken from a field near Strathroy by Willy Ann Kennes, a Pioneer Sales Rep.
This is the same egg mass 24 hours later and you can see the young larvae beginning to hatch. The larvae grow quite rapidly and will soon look like the critter below.
And they can do a significant amount of damage.
Do I expect this beast to become a huge problem this year? No. For one thing, the numbers are not high enough yet to cause real yield loss. For another, the Herculex Bt gene that Pioneer uses in most of their lineup for corn borer protection also gives good control of the western bean cutworm. Herculex is the only Bt gene that provides growers some insurance against this newest invader.
But, we need to remain vigilant going forward because experience proves the western bean cutworm population will continue to grow, along with agronomist job security.
Saturday, July 17, 2010
Pollination success is critical for determining final yield. The number of kernels set is determined at pollination time. Because our conditions are ideal this year, with lots of sun, adequate soil moisture and excellent plant health, we are going to see tremendous kernel set. Drought is the single greatest environmental factor that interferes with the pollination process.
- Pollen shed is controlled by a combination of genetic and environmental factors.
- Once pollen grains have matured inside the tassel anthers, the anthers begin to dry.
- Anthers come in a range of colours, from dark purple to light yellow.
- Anthers typically shed pollen around mid-morning when anthers dry in the heat and sun.
- As the anthers dry they will split apart to allow pollen grains to fall out.
- When pollen makes contact with a receptive silk the pollen grain grows through the silk channel.
- Pollen grains are viable for only a few minutes after they are shed. They quickly dry out and die.
- A tassel normally sheds pollen for about 5 days.
- A tassel will not shed pollen when it is raining.
- Silks come in two main colours, pink like the ones above (Cathy's favourite) and yellow.
- Each silk that emerges connects to a single ovule or potential kernel.
- A silk must be pollinated for the ovule to develop into a kernel.
- Silk emergence starts with the base and proceeds to the tip of the ear. This year it is taking about 6 days for silks to complete emergence.
- Silks continue to lengthen for up to 10 days.
- Silks become less receptive to pollen over time.
- This picture shows silks that are fertilized. They will stop growing and begin to dry up.
- When the ovule is fertilized, the silks detach and fall away. This picture shows a fully fertilized ear.
Friday, July 9, 2010
The corn crop is ready to reproduce. This is a shot taken on Wednesday, July 7 from Fred Olbach's 38N85 planted on April 14. Today, Friday July 9, we can find silks beginning to emerge on fields of 38N88 and 38M58 planted the week of April 19. It is normal to see silks emerge before tassels because breeders select hybrids that initiate silks first. It is a factor that contributes to yield stability.
The rains that fell over the area last night could not have come at a better time. The peak demand for water and nutrients occurs at pollination. Corn silks grow at the rate of 3/4" per day under ideal conditions like we have now. The above two pictures were taken of the same plant 2 days apart. You can see how quickly silks grow. What this means is a large portion of our corn crop will be in full pollination mode next week. Pollination under good conditions lasts about 5-7 days, so over the next 14 days most corn fields will be pollinated in this area. It is a full 3-4 weeks ahead of last year's pace.
What it also means is the early corn silage will be ready to chop on or about September 7, because it takes approximately 45 days to reach half milk line after pollination is complete. It takes about 60 days to reach physiological maturity, grain moisture 35-40%, after pollination is complete. A little more timely rain will set up some awesome grain yields.
Wednesday, July 7, 2010
We were away on a family holiday the last 10 days of June and upon returning I noticed some patterns in quite a few food grade soybean fields. The picture below is one such pattern.
This is another.
Obviously something to do with a sprayer. This field was spot sprayed with a post emergence herbicide the last week of June cleaning up broadleaf escapes. There were entire fields in the area that looked like the beans on the right of the picture. If we look closer, the reason for the injury is clear.
This is text book example of Group 2 herbicide injury caused by being too aggressive with this family of herbicides. Group 2 products in soybeans include Pursuit, First Rate, Classic and Pinnacle. All fine products that provide good value for money spent. Unless you use too much, too late. These fields had Pursuit applied in combination with Boundary and glyphosate at planting time. By the end of June the soybeans were advancing through the 4-6 trifoliate stage. An application of Classic or Pinnacle following the Pursuit in an attempt to clean up broadleaf escapes in these big soybeans can lead to this type of injury. The optimal timing for Classic or Pinnacle is the 1-3 trifoliate stage. This best matches the weed stages with crop safety. These bean plants will recover, but the purple veins will be seen for a long time. Yield loss can be dramatic.
Here is a picture of a Pride plot in our area. Pride does not like advertising which competitive hybrids are in their plots, so they hang a generic competitive sign on hybrids that are not Pride. The middle hybrid in the picture sure looks good. Guess who it belongs to?
Upon publishing the previous post I realized some terms were incorrect. Here is the corrected copy
I have never met a farmer yet who enjoys paperwork, but it is a necessary part of the job. For those of you who have a current Nutrient Management Strategy, keeping records is required by the Nutrient Management Regulations in the province of Ontario. This above picture is of one my nutrient management clients, Jeff Reijnen's dairy barn.
In Perth County this year, the Ministry of Environment's Ag Enforcement Officer, Glenn Ross, has been running a pilot project. He has been contacting and visiting all farm operators in the county with expiring Nutrient Management Strategies. Nutrient Management Strategies and Plans are effective for 5 years. At the end of each 5 year period the farm operation is required to renew their Nutrient Management Strategy with OMAFRA and if they are over 300 nutrient units they are also required to have an updated Nutrient Management Field Plan that covers their cropping plans for the next 5 years. This cropping plan must be kept on file at the farm. Glenn has been focusing on farms that filed Nutrient Management Plans with OMAFRA in 2005. These operations are now required to renew in 2010, unless they have filed subsequent strategies since 2005. The primary purpose of the project is to ensure farm operations have registered, if necessary, with OMAFRA and also ensure Nutrient Management Strategies and Plans are updated. This is a requirement of the regulation.
A secondary purpose is to evaluate the level of compliance amongst farmers in Perth County. Fortunately, he has found compliance levels are relatively high and his friendly personna has kept relations good between the Ministry of Environment, the farm operators and consultants like myself. The project is continuing.
Clients in other counties have also noticed more activity by MOE staff.
The take home message is keep your strategies and field plans up to date and be mindful of the date of expiry of current strategies. I expect the compliance promotion efforts by MOE staff will continue.
Tuesday, July 6, 2010
I have never met a farmer yet who enjoys paperwork, but it is a necessary part of the job, especially if you are captured by the nutrient management regulations in the province of Ontario. This is a picture of one my nutrient management clients, Jeff Reijnen's dairy barn. In Perth County this year, the Ministry of Environment's Ag Enforcement Officer, Glenn Ross, has been running a pilot project. He has been contacting and visiting all farm operators in the county with expiring Nutrient Management Strategies. Our Nutrient Management regulations have a 5 year life cycle. At the end of each 5 year period the farm operation is required to renew their Nutrient Management Strategy with OMAF and if they are over 300 nutrient units they are also required to have an updated Nutrient Management Field Plan that covers their cropping plans for the next 5 years. This cropping plan must be kept on file at the farm. Glenn has been focusing on farms that filed Nutrient Management Plans with OMAF in 2005. These operations are now required to renew in 2010, unless they have filed subsequent strategies since 2005.
The purpose of Glenn's project is to find out the degree of compliance with the regulations in Perth County. Fortunately, he has found compliance levels are relatively high and his friendly personna has kept relations good between the Ministry of Environment, the farm operators and consultants like myself.
Clients in other counties have also noticed more activity by MOE staff.
The take home message is keep your strategies up to date and be mindful of the date of expiry of current strategies. I expect the enforcement to continue.