Research Roundup

FIND OUT WHAT’S NEW IN THE WORLD OF RESEARCH

Corn yield ‘lost by the minute’ from weed stress
Joey Sabljic
Weeds growing near corn plant seedlings permanently rob these future cash crops of their full yield potential. It turns out corn plants make physiological changes in response to the weeds’ presence, and not for the better. 

Early results from a new University of Guelph study shows once part of a crop’s full yield potential is lost, there’s nothing that can be done to bring yield potential back to 100 percent. 

Plant agriculture professor Dr. Clarence Swanton and researcher Greg Stewart have found that combinations of treatments including weed control, fungicides, increased nitrogen or soil management, do not help to restore yield potential in corn plants exposed to early season weed stress at the four-leaf and six-leaf stages. 

“I believe that yield is lost by the minute in a plant,” says Swanton, “and it results in irreversible changes in yield potential.” 

This project was funded in part through Growing Forward, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative. The Agricultural Adaptation Council assists in the delivery of several Growing Forward programs in Ontario. Support for this project was also provided by Grain Farmers of Ontario. •

New gluten tester can give a more accurate quality picture
Alycia Moore
Classifying wheat as either “hard” or “soft” has been defined by the quantity of protein within a particular variety. Now researchers at the University of Guelph have developed a new analytical tool, the gluten peak tester (GPT), which will test for protein quality instead – a better indicator for determining end-use application.

Hard and soft wheat has very specific end uses, says lead researcher Dr. Koushik Seetharaman from the Department of Food Science. Hard wheat is generally used to make bread or pastry products; soft wheat is used for products such as most cakes and cookies.

A tool that can determine these wheat gluten properties during the early stages of a breeding program helps wheat breeders with selection. And millers who are able to identify flour quality can deliver the appropriate flour to processors based on the specific end-use.

Funding for this project has been provided in part by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada through the Canadian Agricultural Adaptation Program (CAAP). In Ontario, this program is delivered by the Agricultural Adaptation Council. An additional portion of the funding for this project has been provided by Grain Farmers of Ontario, the Ontario Cereals Industry Research Council, ADM and Brabender Inc.

Soybean planting recommendations under review
Rebecca Hannam
Soybean planting date recommendations could soon be changing to encourage earlier planting, says the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. 

Provincial soybean specialist Horst Bohner has conducted two years of field trials, most recently experimenting with planting as early as April 20.

Though findings are still being analyzed, all indications point to very early planting having a significant yield advantage.  

Initial results from beans planted in late April indicate an average yield of 67.1 bushels per acre while early and late May planting dates resulted in 64.3 bushels per acre and 58.4 bushels per acre respectively.

“It’s compelling that every time we choose an earlier planting date, we see yield increases,” says Bohner.  

Field trials will continue in 2011 and potential frost issues will also be studied before recommendations are made. 

Research collaborators include Dr. Hugh Earl, Department of Plant Agriculture, University of Guelph and Adam Pfeffer, Monsanto Canada. 

This project was funded in part through Growing Forward, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative. 

The Agricultural Adaptation Council assists in the delivery of several Growing Forward programs in Ontario. Support for this project was also provided by Grain Farmers of Ontario. 

Research Roundup is provided by members of SPARK (Students Promoting Awareness of Research Knowledge) at the University of Guelph’s Office of Research. For more information, contact a SPARK writer at 519-824-4120, ext. 52667.

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