Thursday, August 7, 2014

War & Peace

Last week nature unleashed a blitzkrieg of sorts in parts of southern Ontario.  Jeff Steiner, a Pioneer sales rep posted this shot of a soybean field near Oshawa.  Devastating to say the least.  I think hail has the greatest traumatic effect on growers of any weather event.
The yields losses due to hail damage are well documented.  Hail is among the most studied of weather events by crop physiologists because it is a very common event and easy to simulate.
This is an example of research conducted by Pioneer studying the effect of severe hail damage.  Hail during the pollination period of corn produces the highest yield losses.  If you strip the tassels and silks off a corn plant it stands to reason that yield will be low. Fortunately this amount of severe damage is a rare occurrence in Ontario.

On the north edge of St Marys last week a couple strips of hail also fell.  Thankfully, nothing like Jeff's field.
A few shredded leaves, but tassels and silks are still in one piece.  
In fact the tassels were starting to shed pollen while I took these pictures the morning after the storm.  
A check of the leaves near the ear shoot reveal that these leaves are more or less intact.  
The ear leaf is where a large portion of yield drive comes from.  If the ear leaf is intact yield losses are small.
An adjacent soybean field looked like this.
A few broken stems and partially shredded leaves.
The problem with assessing hail damage is the fact that farmers over estimate the effects of the damage. Understandably so because it is a traumatic effect.  However, in both these corn and soybean fields yield losses will be greater from waterlogged soils thanks to the rain that accompanied the hail.  The yield loss effect from this amount of hail is in the less than 5% category.  If it was your field would you agree?

The typical question following these events involves fungicide application.  There is a feeling that fungicides will help hail damaged crops.  The research on this topic does not agree.  The benefits of fungicides are no greater on hail damaged crops than non-damaged crops. 

Do you know what this weed is?
I know I am short, but the stature of this weed is still impressive.  It is giant ragweed.  Is proliferates along creek and stream banks throughout the area.  Why is this important? Giant ragweed is one species of weed that can exhibit glyphosate resistance.  Some strains of giant ragweed are not killed by glyphosate.  Multiple applications of glyphosate alone will select for these plants.  It can destroy a soybean field.
There are soybeans under the the umbrella of giant ragweed. In this case it is not glyphosate resistant ragweed because the field was not sprayed with glyphosate.  But you get the idea how this weed can take over. Please remain vigilant. 

Finally, a peaceful intruder was found in Cathy's garden.
Cathy planted a row of butterfly weed and sure enough the monarch butterflies located it. How they find one row among other flowers is amazing. A new generation of monarchs are on the way.  

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