Sunday, April 29, 2012

Corn is In Storage, What Now Boss?

We have done everything possible to make sure our corn seed is stored away safely in a cool dry place and our attention is turning to soybeans.

I delivered some bulk 91M01 soybeans on Saturday into my buddy Frank's drill.

I then filled his seed wagon with 91Y41's.  That heavy winter coat he is wearing will keep him out of the field for a day or two, but these beans will get drilled this week.   He was done planting corn a week ago, so he has nothing better to do. 

If you are going to plant early like Frank, make sure they are fully treated and also inoculated with a growth promotor type inoculant. We use Optimize for this purpose. Optimize will promote a vigorous soybean plant with an improved root system and faster nodule development. 

The Optimize is applied at our warehouse with this applicator.

Inoculant solution is sprayed with a 360 degree nozzle onto the beans as they pass through the funnel.  This applies a uniform amount of inoculant onto each bean. 

The main benefit to planting soybeans in early May is a bigger plant by the end of June.  A bigger plant will support more flowers and hopefully more pod set. 

If (??) the forcast is correct, the warmer night temperatures will be the key to getting beans off to a good start.  This will hold soil temperatures above 50 degrees at night.

The evil quiz master has a skill testing question. 
How many crop heat units does it take to emerge a soybean? 

a. 150-175
b. 175-200
c. 200 +

The answer will be in the next post.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Dust and Heat (not!!)

A wise farmer once told me that you will never go wrong planting a crop if the dust is flying behind the planter.  Was this what he had in mind?  I delivered some corn seed on Thursday and the dust was definitely flying behind this planter.  It's not quite as bad as it looks because there was some moisture in the seed zone, but we are not used to these conditions in April.  There are reports of farmers deciding to plant corn 2-3" deep in order to place seed in the moisture.        

It is a real catch-22.  Moisture and heat are needed to emerge a crop.  This spring moisture and heat have both been missing in action.  The deeper you plant, the colder it is.  The shallower you plant, the drier it is.
Personally, I don't believe in planting deep in April.  I would never go deeper than 2" because I tend to think moisture comes back quicker than heat this time of year.  In late May, it is the exact opposite.  Shallow planting then is the kiss of death.

I passed judgement a while back when I believed it was too early to plant.  I have done some investigating to see whether my call was correct.  My experience with early planting has been with cold and wet soil, not cold and dry. 

This corn has been in the ground for three weeks.  The radicle, which becomes the root is well established and the coleoptile shoot is beginning to emerge.  How much longer can it hang on?  Don't know.  Moisture is not the problem.  The picture does not show this well because the camera man can't figure out a setting to reveal the contrast. 

This seed planted on April 13 is a week old.  The radicle is just starting to emerge.  It is also in lots of moisture.  Both fields were planted with the dust flying.  Both need some heat.  A snowy forecast will do nothing to change the situation.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Where Did I Put That Rain Gauge?

The warm rain everyone was looking for made a brief appearance yesterday.  I have no idea how much because our rain gauge is still inside the house.   
Planters were starting to move with more consistency as last week moved on.  I have two larger customers that have finished planting corn.  Others were starting.  I pushed my soil temperature probe in the ground on Saturday in the field beside the warehouse.  This ground has not been worked.  By mid afternoon the sun was shining and the temperatures were recovering.  

8:50 AM

12:23 PM

2:40 PM

It is now mid-April, so it is time to turn the corn planter loose.   The goal should be to finish by May 4.  That's three weeks and it won't make a big difference which week you choose.  Many folks only take a few days to plant, so pick your week.  No more talk about cold nights, or lack of heat, or it is better in the bag.  Hook on the planter and do it.  End of discussion.  Go plant. 

My earlier comments on crop insurance were not quite correct.  I should know better than listen to countryside chatter.  David Connery of Agricorp informed this week that corn planted before April 15 is not eligible for replant coverage due to poor emergence, but will still be eligible for other peril coverage.  This will be evaluated on a case by case basis.  After April 15, full coverage kicks in. 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Say What????

There is a report circulating that a field of corn is in the spike stage somewhere in Ontario.  In my opinion, this kind of talk is foolishness.  If it is true and I expect it may be, the field must be in a highly protected, extremely unique environment that captures a lot of heat. 
I repeat the cardinal rule.  It takes 150 heat units to get corn to emerge.  A daytime high of 30 degrees and a nighttime low of 10 degrees contributes 22 heat units.  It takes a WEEK of high 20's and low teens to coax a corn seed out of the ground. 
You would have to plant on March 16 this year to have a chance of accumulating 150 heat units in a typical open field.

A customer bought a new air seeder last fall and went out behind the shed during the warm week in March to make sure it would plant.  He brought in some soybean seeds that have been in the ground since then.

This is reality.  Soybeans are similar to corn in the amount of heat required to germinate.  The seed has sprouted a root, but is a long way from emergence.  

Friday, April 6, 2012

Have A Good, Good Friday!

I had some fun at Dave Phillips' expense a few posts back, but Dave was bang on when he said winter was still going to linger.  Cathy's flowers don't look so good anymore. 
Recently we have seen why planting corn in March is a dumb idea.  The last day where the daytime temperature peaked at 18 degrees was two weeks ago.  The heat accumulation since then has been a grand total of 16 heat units.  This is normal and very close to what we would expect for late March through early April.  To put it in perspective, 150 heat units are required to get corn to emerge. 

One question asked several times this week is whether Pioneer has an early planting date where re-plant seed would not be honoured if you plant before that date.  The answer is no.  There is no re-plant cut off date for early planting.  Crop insurance does not have one either.  Personally, I would support the idea because there is no data to suggest we can plant corn in March without significant risk.  On the other hand, despite coffee shop rumours, there is a very small amount of corn actually planted.  If Pioneer did have a cut off date it would have no effect on the ultra aggressive types trying to prove everyone else wrong.  They would charge on regardless and stomp their feet if it did not work out.

It looks like the cold temperatures are going to linger.  As April moves along the temptation to start planting becomes larger.  What do we need to consider to give us the best chance of success?

The first, second and last thing is temperature.  Avoid planting just prior to a cold weather event.  The potential risk of chilling injury looks like this.

Imbibitional chilling can occur if the water temperature entering the seed is below 10 degrees.  Daytime highs need to get back to consistent 12-15 degrees before we should consider going very far with a corn planter.  Forecast  models are indicating that we may get this trend toward the end of next week.  The balance of April, if temperature forecasts are accurate, is still trending cold which is NORMAL.

It may be wise to apply 28% N and soil herbicides, like Primextra and Integrity.  It gets one job done.  The cool soils will keep the bacteria from breaking down either the nitrogen or herbicide. These herbicides have a 30 day prior to plant registration on the label.
The same thinking applies to burndowns.  Fall annuals and volunteer wheat are growing because they don't mind the cold.  As they get bigger rates need to go higher and they become tougher to control. 

In the meantime, keep a positive attitude and use your time wisely.

Have a Happy Easter.

P.S.  Some good tips are found in the minutes from the agribusiness breakfast meeting.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

OK! Blue Jays!

The Leafs have folded, so lets talk baseball.  The season is ready to start and Brian's new 4420 sprayer showed up on Friday, just in time. 

It is hard to get a good picture of a 120 ft boom.

Meanwhile, all great baseball pitchers know how to change speeds to keep the opposing hitters off balance.  Nature is a master of the same technique.  Alfalfa and wheat were teeing off on early fastballs served up by nature the past two weeks.

The alfalfa crop was of to a very fast start, enjoying the summer-like weather and ready to hit the next pitch into the upper deck. 

Not so fast.  Nature served up an uncle charlie country curve ball last Tuesday morning.  Temperatures reached a low of -7.  Some areas in the province were -10.  Ouch.  The alfalfa crop was quickly sent back to the bench. 

Upper leaves and growing points were stopped cold, or more accurately frozen. Most fields are looking quite limp.  I believe the stands in this area will survive.  Alfalfa is a tough crop and will fight back.  It takes more than a little frost to ruin its day. 

New growth is visible at the lower nodes of the stems.  This indicates the stems are still alive.  It has been set back, but will recover and produce a respectable crop.  It is still in the game.  Extra innings may be necessary.