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Ontario Grain Farmer Magazine is the flagship publication of Grain Farmers of Ontario and a source of information for our province’s grain farmers. 

Mid-season field update


as planting neared completion in most areas of Ontario, we asked a few Certified Crop Advisors (CCAs) from across the province to comment on what they were seeing in the fields as the growing season began and what you should be watching for later in the summer.


niagara peninsula
John Hussack, CCA-ON, Clark AgriService
In the Niagara Peninsula drought is quickly becoming a major concern. With most corn and soybeans planted, concern arises with no immediate rain; will corn and soybeans planted into heavy clay soil be able to survive?  Some crops were planted into clay soil which was a bit wet.  This has resulted in the soil quickly turning into extremely hard ground, limiting the plant’s ability to develop roots. Pre-emerge herbicides on both corn and soybeans may not be very effective with reduced rainfall.

Producers growing hay will need to be concerned about alfalfa weevil in the early part of the season and leaf hoppers in  mid-summer. Insecticide may be required when leaf hoppers are above threshold numbers. Growing leaf hopper resistant alfalfa has reduced the problem.

In the corn crop, monitoring of fields for the western bean cutworm adult should be foremost. If the adults are found in large numbers when the corn is pre-tasseling to full-tasseling, the top leaves of the corn plant should be examined for clusters of egg masses. Once the threshold of hatched eggs has been met, insecticides should be applied.

In the soybean fields a dry year usually results in more insects. Fields will need to be constantly walked for presence of soybean aphids and two-spotted spider mites either of which can quickly reduce a soybean crop’s potential yield.

eastern ontario
Paul Hermans, CCA-ON, CSP, Pioneer Hi-Bred
What at first seemed like an early start to the 2012 planting season for eastern Ontario turned into three distinct planting seasons: April 14-17, April 30-May 1 and after May 8.  Most of the crop was planted by May 22 which was a big change over last year’s planting season. 

Looking at planting dates in eastern Ontario from the last three years, this year is starting out earlier than both 2011 and 2010.

Crop % Planted
May 22, 2012 May 24, 2011 May 17, 2010
Corn 99% 70% 99%
Soybeans 95% 10% 55%

So which timing is going to be most profitable? For the earliest planting date (mid-April), plant stand counts show this crop had somewhat lower than normal emergence.  However, most growers planted at higher populations so this helped offset potential replanting situations. While we won’t know until the combines roll this fall, early planted corn and soybeans will likely end up being the most profitable in eastern Ontario.

The above normal temperatures we had in May combined with adequate subsurface soil moisture, made crop progression and weed growth occur rapidly. This certainly proved a challenge for growers to keep critical weed free times in check.

Forage harvest started the week of May 24 with reported yields being down. Forage inventories will be tight this year and at  publication time, growers were contemplating planting more silage corn or soybeans into sod fields.

This has been a great start to the growing season and growers in eastern Ontario are optimistic about the 2012 harvest.  With a few timely rains and continued heat, we are set to have a bountiful harvest!

northern ontario (New Liskeard)
Terry Philliips, CCA-ON, Tamiskaming Ag
Planting is near completion. Some ground is still being sprayed with glyphosate in preparation of planting canola.  A very dry spring, especially in the Verner area is causing slow germination for canola.

Soybeans and oats are seeing the largest increases with acreages being planted. Canola appears to be down a little and spring wheat is still losing some acres as fusarium is a concern for many growers. Barley saw some resurgence with higher prices last winter. Herbicide spraying is starting on Roundup ReadyTM corn and winter wheat.

The biggest buzz around this area is the 700 acres of corn planted under plastic.  A company from Ireland came in this winter with a six-row corn planter and covered the seeds with a bio-degradable film that assists in speeding up soil temperature warm-up.  There was a significant difference in corn maturity from three to four leaf under plastic, to little or no germ outside in the side by side. Earlier, there was as much as 12°C difference in soil temperature from -4°C between rows to   6-8°C under film.

There was virtually no winterkill on winter wheat or forages noted from last winter.

northern ontario (THUNDER BAY)
Dr. Tarlok Singh-Sahota, CCA-ON,
Thunder-Bay Agricultural Research Station

You can find most of the same crops in the Thunder Bay district that the rest of the province grows, except that corn is grown for silage. Most producers in this district are dairy farmers and a few are beef or pig farmers. Traditionally, the cropping systems in this district have been governed by the livestock requirements for feed and forage (for hay or silage). Over the past few years, Thunder Bay producers, encouraged by the location specific, development-oriented research at the Thunder Bay Agricultural Research Station (TBARS), have started diversifying into an increasing area under cash crops. For example, one farmer increased his area for hard red spring (HRS) wheat from 200 acres last year to 300 acres this year. Another farmer has seeded a new HRS wheat variety (tested at TBARS) for the first time in 60 of his 360 acres under HRS wheat (300 acres under Sable).

There is a great diversity within a single crop. For example, you can see over a dozen of eastern and western barley varieties in a radius of ~25 km. It will be hard to find this type of diversity anywhere else in the province. Diversity within a crop helps to stop the spread of diseases and spreads out spraying and harvesting operations.

Another enterprising farmer has seeded 12 acres under Kabuli chick pea, a protein rich heart healthy pulse crop, not far from the research station. I believe Thunder Bay is the only place in Ontario where you can see Millhouse-food barley and chick pea. Brule Creek Farms Thunder Bay is stone grinding Millhouse barley for flour to make barley bread or wheat-barley mix bread.

If you want to see the best crops in Ontario, with healthy green canopies from bottom to top, come to Thunder Bay! I can challenge; you won’t be able to see nutrient deficiencies in any of the crops. Our farmers take care of crop nutrition so well!  •

Crop advisors provide advice and council producers in their decision making process. This responsibility requires a good understanding of science, food safety, technology, economics and environment. Crop advisors combine knowledge in these disciplines with their local experience to render sound recommendations.

If you would like to contact a CCA in your area or if you would like contact information for any of the above mentioned CCAs, please contact the CCA office at (519) 669-3350 or visit the website at


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