Monday, March 26, 2012

Supply Problems? No Problem.

The last few days Brian and I have fielded many questions about seed supply.  The rumour throughout the neighbourhood is corn seed is in short supply and you better talk to your dealer because he doesn't have what you ordered.
We always appreciate talking to customers, but I want to set the record straight.  The Barker warehouse is full and we have your order covered. 

We also have additional supplies of very good hybrids. 
38M58             2850 HU
38M59             2850 HU
P9675XR         2850 HU
P9855HR         2900 HU
P9910XR         2950 HU
P0118HR         3000 HU

We have started shipping seed out to customers and will continue doing the same this week.  
Let me be clear.  Our corn seed sales are 20% higher than last year and we still have supply.  If our friendly competitors are having problems, too bad for them.  Just call us and we will be happy to take care of their problem.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

To N or Not To N, That is the Question

This past week Pat Lynch was gently admonishing me in an e-mail about nitrogen application on wheat.  Pat felt it was time to get on the bandwagon and get it done.  I was not as positive about the idea so Pat asked me what I was waiting for.  In his words "a sign from heaven"? 

There are more wheat fields that look rough in our neighbourhood than I initially thought.  These types of fields should get 40-50 lbs and field conditions are perfect to get this job done.  We also have time to do it.

I am not convinced that applying all our nitrogen in late March is wise.  The wheat plant will not use it and there is too much risk of  nutrient loss.  Both Michigan State and Ohio State extension services agree that N application should not happen yet.  Ohio State has data supporting delaying nitrogen application until stem elongation phase of plant development.  This is equal to growth stage zadoks 25-30 or feekes 6. 

Nitrogen applied at the beginning of stem elongation resulted in the same or higher yields as applying all the nitrogen at first green up.  The link to this article is posted below.

To be fair to Pat, his main concern is a lack of time if we wait this long.  It can interfere with corn planting.  Corn planting needs to take priority over applying N to wheat.  No argument there.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Dave Phillips vs Cathy's Crocus

Early this past week a friend told me about Dave Phillips being on Canada AM that morning.  Dave Phillips was expressing his opinion that winter may not be over yet in Ontario.  In fact, Dave has been making the rounds with other media outlets this week saying the same thing.  I have respect Dave, the senior climatologist with Environment Canada.  I have heard him speak.  He can be quite funny and has a healthy sense of humour with regard to his track record of failed forecasts.  Dave is smart and uses past history as his guide to the future.  Historically, there has never been a year without snowfall after March 11.  Does this fact help us farmers make decisions?  Not really.  We have all seen snow in April, sometimes May and frost in June.  Do these facts keep us from planting corn in April?  You be the judge.

Nature doesn't listen to Dave Phillips or any other media reports on TV and radio.  Spring is busting out all over the place.  Cathy's crocus in the middle of our yard are telling us spring is here and mostly here to stay.  The same crocus did not flower last year until May.  An expensive spice is derived from crocus flowers.  Do you know what it is?  See answer below.

The ground is warm and coming into shape quickly.  The best seed bed conditions are usually found during the first good dry spell.    It is definitely time to plant alfalfa and spring cereals.  If snow does arrive, it will melt and disappear in a blink of the eye.

The wheat crop has broken dormancy.  Should we apply some nitrogen to take advantage of the early growth?  It is very tempting.  The crop has come to life, so it will soon need a boost.  Right? Research has proven that if your stand is weak and thin, 30 lbs of N early will give it a boost.  Most of the wheat in this area looks very good, so an early trip would be a waste of money.  No need to be in a hurry.  Wheat responds to temperature, it will start to grow anytime the temperature is above zero.  Wheat is also daylight sensitive.  This means an early start will not advance the crop as fast as we think.  Wheat does not need nitrogen in March and there is a risk to losing early applied N if it starts raining.

The Weather Network is calling for normal temperature and precipitation going forward.  That might mean a little snow, a little rain, a little sun.  In other words, a typical April.  Sounds like they agree with Dave.  My money is on the crocus.

** Answer to crocus question.  The spice is saffron.  Saffron is the most expensive spice in the world because it is made from the stigmas in the crocus flower head.  These must be hand picked.  Before you rush out and pick the stigmas from Cathy's crocus you need to know that saffrom can only be made from the saffron crocus.  The saffron crocus flowers in the fall, not the spring. 

Saturday, March 10, 2012

KISS by Greg Stewart

I have posted two links to presentations by Greg Stewart, OMAFRA's corn lead.  I like Greg's approach because he keeps it simple and easy to understand.  Both are 15 minutes long and well worth the time.

The bottom line messages are
1.keep some potash in your starter fertilizers
2.use the N calculator as a tool to calculate nitrogen rates

I personally have used both and believe strongly that Greg is right.

Thank you Greg. 

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Bugs and Coaches

It is the winter doldrums time of year.  Agronomists are forced to make predictions about the upcoming season because the farmer and the agronomist are bored and they often have not much else to talk about, except for Ron Wilson.  I think farmers enjoy the game.  They get to talk amongst themselves about the stupid agronomist.  I have little use for predictions, mostly because I rarely get them right. 

Recently some clients have been asking about insect levels going into the spring and summer.  The warm winter has been friendly to overwintering insects, so the natural question is "has this been beneficial to crop pests?"   Ok, I will bite.

Corn Rootworm

Based on the very low numbers of adult rootworm last summer, I believe rootworm larvae have no chance of being a serious threat this year.  Many hybrids have rootworm resistance technology.

Corn Borer

The winter would be friendly to this one if there were enough larvae around.  Populations are low.  Bio-tech hybrids have reduced the impact of this one.

Western Bean Cutworm

Overwintering has been confirmed in tougher winters.  Moth flights coming over the border will guarantee populations to increase.  We have noticed this increase in our traps for two years.  Bio-tech will help, but if you are unlucky enough to have a western bean frosh party in your field, you may have to spray.  Scouting is important.

Black Cutworm

The black cutworm moth catches the red eye flight from the US and arrives in May.  It is the beaver of the insect world because the larvae cut off young healthy corn plants at the base of the stalk. Adults look for grassy or weedy areas of the field to lay eggs.  Traditionally, farmers along the north shore of Lake Erie have seen this one before.  Some species prefer sandy soils.  Not surprised if we see it further north, but won't be bad enough to warrant replant.

Bean Leaf Beetle

This one does appreciate the tropical winter.  The adults hang out under trash and litter in protected areas.  Cruiser treated soybeans give provide protection against the first generation.  Second generation adults will feed on the pods, transmitting bean pod mottle virus, which can affect IP premiums and seed quality. 

Soybean Aphid

Unpredictable does not begin to descibe soybean aphids.  They overwinter on buckthorn and can explode at any time during the summer.  Cruiser seed treatment really helps for the first 60 days after planting.  July and early August are open season.  Predators and disease cause aphid populations to crash and burn almost as fast as they build.  Aphids do more to keep crop scouts employed than any other bug.

One thing to keep in mind is, while the winter helps some pests to suvive and prosper, it also helps diseases and predators.  It is a dynamic relationship.  Using insecticide only when necessary keeps the relationship in balance.

Now, about Randy Carlyle....