Field conditions across most of the province are drier than normal. This generally will have little effect on corn and soybeans since both are at the early vegetative growth stage. The impact on winter cereals could be significant since they are already out in head and at, or nearing, pollination.
The emerging story on Ontario potatoes
Despite concerns that early planting may have been a little too early, reports from the Ontario Potato Board are favourable….
There is an unusually high risk of spontaneous combustion in dry hay that was put up in May this year. During the past two weeks of dry weather, a lot of first-cut hay acres were harvested early (e.g. normal timing is mid-June timing. Reports are coming in of hay that looked, felt, and tested dry enough to bale, but once in storage the moisture content bounced back up above 25 per cent. All new crop hay should be checked daily for signs of heating for the first three months in storage.
Spontaneous combustion can occur when sufficient moisture (above 25 per cent and below 45 per cent moisture content) and oxygen are present together to support the growth of bacteria and moulds in the forage. Microbial growth heats the forage. In the temperature range of 54 to 65 C, a chemical process called the Maillard Reaction may occur, causing additional heat generation. This reaction can be self-sustaining and does not require oxygen to continue. The gases produced will ignite if they have reached a high enough temperature and are exposed to air.
If forage temperatures are above 70 C, increase monitoring to once every 4 hours. If temperatures reach 80 C, call the fire department: the forage is likely to combust. Be aware that haylage with a moisture content below 45 per cent is also at high risk of spontaneous combustion. Dry weather in the last 14 days may have wilted haylage faster than anticipated. Silage that is too dry does not pack well, which increases the amount of air remaining in the silo after filling.
In general, the corn crop looks good throughout most of the province. Poor stand establishment exists on heavier clay soils crusted over. The crop ranges from the 2-3 to 5-6 leaf stage and is currently in the critical weed-free period (see Figure 1 at top). As such, weed management in corn has been a significant priority over the past week.
Nitrogen side-dressing has begun. Current warm, dry conditions are conducive to nitrogen losses from volatilization. The use of a nitrogen stabilizer can reduce nitrogen volatilization, especially if the side-dress application isn’t placed deep enough in the soil. For more information, refer to: fieldcropnews.com/2023/06/do-i-need-a-nitrogen-stabilizer-with-in-season-nitrogen-in-corn/
Current dry conditions are likely to have the greatest impact on winter wheat, as it is in the critical heading to flowering growth stages that impact yield. Earlier in the spring, the crop looked excellent. Currently, signs of moisture stress are apparent, with uneven head emergence and moisture stressed leaves, most obvious on lighter textured soils.
In the southwest part of the province, winter wheat has pollinated and T3 fungicides for the management of fusarium head blight were applied last week. In mid-western, central and eastern Ontario, wheat is at or approaching pollination and T3 applications have begun or are imminent. More producers than in a typical year have opted not to apply a T3 fungicide because of dry conditions and the low risk for fusarium head blight. However, many acres have still been treated since historically a significant yield benefit to T3 fungicide applications has been observed and there is a need to manage powdery mildew in some fields.
Soybeans planted in late May, during the hot weather and good soil conditions, came up quickly and plant stands look excellent. Soybeans planted prior to the last significant rain event (May 19th) and into less-than-ideal soil conditions have lower and more variable stands but are still acceptable. Soybeans planted on the heavy clay soils at this time have experienced poor stand establishment and re-planting has occurred. Soybeans planted into dry soil conditions have experienced poor germination but will germinate once adequate rainfall occurs. Do not assess a poor soybean stand too quickly, since more seedlings may still emerge. Fields with a plant reduction of 50 per cent do not need replanting if plant loss is uniform and the stand is healthy. Numerous studies and field experience have demonstrated that keeping an existing stand is often more profitable than replanting. Replanting gives no guarantee of a perfect stand.
Most of the crop is in the unifoliate to 1st trifoliate stage of growth. The critical weed-free period begins at the 1st trifoliate stage. Weed removal during this period in drier years is more important. There are already examples of moisture stressed soybeans from weed competition. The benefits of early season removal have the greatest impact in dry years.
“(Required)” indicates required fields
Significant acreage has been planted with estimates ranging from 65-80 per cent complete. In some instances, finding moisture has been a challenge and planting depths of 2.5-inches (6.3 cm) have not been unheard of. While some growers will continue to plant, others may opt to delay until rainfall has occurred, and adequate moisture exists.