Field observations


October 11, 2019

CLEAR WEATHER THIS week has allowed for a surge of soybeans to be harvested, with winter wheat being planted right behind the soybean harvest. Light frosts and cooler night temperatures are putting an end to the growing season for the corn crop.


Black layered corn has signaled that the corn crop has matured. Hopefully, your crop has black layer before you receive a killing frost. If you haven’t reached black layer, but your crop is close, you will still have a chance for much of your plants sugars to be translocated to the kernel to help add a bit more weight to the kernel. Continuing cool temperatures will slow crop development and as we are into October we can expect the crop has come to the end of its dry mater accumulation stage.

Hand shelled samples of corn that black layered last week had a moisture reading of 25.8% this week. Hand shelling usually comes out 2% dryer than a machine harvest. So call it 28% moisture corn. Drydown of the kernels and stalk strength will be two things to watch for in the next few weeks. Dry, warm weather will hasten drydown, strong winds will lodge corn and rain will keep moisture at the current level.  In an average fall, it usually takes three days per point of moisture in October. So, for this 28% corn to get to 23% it will take 15 days. When we get into November, it will take five days per point of moisture. For the month of October, we hope we can continue to see above average temperatures to help dry the crop down to a respectful harvest moisture.


Favourable fall weather with clear skies and drying winds this week have allowed for soybean harvest to continue at a steady pace. Harvest moistures typically started around 16% at noon hour and quickly dropped to 13% in a few hours. Heavy dews have made for shorter days, but farmers are making the most of the fair weather and harvest is at a fast pace. The majority of the soybean crop is more than 50% harvested this week.

July planted soybeans still have green beans and stems, leaves are still hanging on. Harvest will stretch out.


Early planted wheat fields have emerged nicely. Some early fields struggled under dry conditions with uneven emergence, but with last week’s rain, and this week’s sun, the early crop is off to a good start. A big part of the Ontario’s winter wheat crop was planted this week as soybean harvest is in full swing.


October 4, 2019

THE LAST SEVEN days started with some really nice heat to help finish a lot of the Ontario crop, or at least get it closer to maturity.  The week has finished colder and wetter and has ground the beginning of the harvest to a stall for a few days


The 173 CHU received last week has allowed the corn planted on June 8 to black layer. Total heat unit accumulation for this field location is 2951 CHUs since planting and the 2950 and 3000 CHU corn has just black layered.

Areas of the province that received little rain during grain fill period and areas that had disease hastening maturity will need to check on the stalk health of the corn crop. Some plants have died down due to stress from lack of moisture or lack of nutrients which could have also been an effect of shallow roots due to the wet spring. These stressed plants may have cannibalized the corn stalks and have lost the stalk integrity associated with a healthy plant. Now is a good time to check corn stalks for their health and the potential for further decay due to disease pathogens. A quick pinch of the stalk or a kick to the base will reveal the strength. The cut stalks in the pictures shows the start of stalk disintegration. The dark colour of the plant’s node is an indication of cell death and stalk strength will be compromised.

Insect damage can also play a role in stalk disintegration. In hybrid A the stalk on the top has insect feeding and natural pathogens have made their way in to start the regeneration process. Just a little earlier than we would like.

Hybrid differences in plant health and plant genetics play a role in stalk strength. Hybrid B has the pith of the stalk starting to collapse and is becoming stringy and fibrous. The stalk will soon be hollow, and the outer stalk will be all that is holding the plant up. Further disintegration by pathogens will weaken the stalk making it susceptible to lodging when a wind blows across the field.

Scout fields at this mature time to gauge the field’s risk to stalk lodging. Make plans to harvest fields that have been compromised due to weather or disease and will be affected by early stalk lodging. Plan for these fields to be harvested first to reduce your field losses.


Harvest was underway early this week but came to a grinding stop with the rains passing through mid-week. Harvest moistures are reporting between 11% to 15% and were drying quickly with the heat and wind. Harvest will resume when clearer weather comes through next week. Yields for the earlier harvest are reporting in from the 40 to 60 bushels per acre range. Some late planted fields still have some green stalks and leaves are remaining on the plants, some drier weather and a few more CHUs will help mature the remaining crop.


Winter wheat continues to be planted as the soybean crop is harvested.


September 27, 2019

ADDITIONAL HEAT OVER the past two weeks has helped bring crops closer to maturity. As the soybeans are ripening and being harvested, winter wheat is quickly being seeded. Corn still needs a bit more time and heat to mature, but we are much further along than we anticipated at the first of the month.


What a difference some heat makes. Four weeks ago, we had milk to dough stage corn (R3-R4) and today we are sitting in a much more favourable position than was anticipated last month. Current growth stage of the crop is from Dent to Black Layer (R5-R6) with the majority of the crop in that ½ to 3/4 milk line.

As the crop is maturing and husks are browning off, the husks are opening nicely, and ears are tipping down. These attributes will help the grain to dry down while avoiding mould growth and moisture retention.  Ear disease has not been observed to date, but insect feeding from WBC and ear worm has been seen in some areas. Mouldy ears and DON production will be limited this year but may affect growers in areas of insect damage and higher rainfall.  Scout fields to know your risk.

For the area of West Chatham-Kent, they have received more rainfall before planting (May 1 to June 8th – 7.1 inches) than they have received during the growing season after planting (6.1 inches). Dryer summer conditions have limited mould growth but have put more drought stress on the crop and has limited the kernel depth and increased kernel abortions

during grain fill.


Soybean maturity has benefited from our additional heat this month and soybeans are maturing quickly. Early planted and early varieties have been harvested over the week and reports of 35 to 55 bushels are common. Under this year’s variable conditions, we can expect a wide range of yields across the province and some areas will experience lows of 20 bushels (field average) and other areas will have highs in the 70’s (field average).

With the overall late plantings of a vast amount of the acres, expectations for the Provinces average will be well below the previous year’s average yield of 51.4 bu/ac or just below the five-year average of 47 bu/ac. Expectation is for the average to hit between 43 and 45 bu/ac most likely.


Over the past week, a larger amount of winter wheat has started to get planted across the province. As the soybean crop gets harvested the wheat will be planted right behind.  If the weather holds for the next few weeks, we will be fortunate to have a normal planting window for winter wheat this fall.


Multiple agronomic webinars have been done over the past few months. Check them out at

On Monday we will be posting the GrainTALK webinar “How to improve the consistency of DON testing results with Dr. Art Schaafsma”. The webinar is on the results of the 2018 DON corn testing that Dr. Schaafsma conducted this past year. Dr. Schaafsma highlights the testing results and answers the questions of how we can get more consistent DON testing results through improved testing techniques.

Ontario Soil Network

The Ontario Soil Network held a cross province tour this past week. The tour travelled from Kingsville to Douglas and interested growers from nearby areas came out to discuss soil health and how they were adjusting, tweaking and making changes to their operations to incorporate techniques to help improve soil health. A lot of great ideas on cover crops, equipment adjustment, altered rotations, new crop uses, timings and more, were discussed. Great information shared by all. Hats off to the participants that made the trip across the province and sincere thank you for those that organized the event.


September 20, 2019

WITH SOME SUN and heat this past week we managed to accumulate 200 CHUs in Chatham-Kent and 146 CHU in Wellington South, which has nicely helped the crops advance in maturity. Yellowing beans and brown husked corn are signs that the growing season is coming to an end and mature crops are right around the corner.


Corn maturity across the province remains variable. Drier regions are starting to see brown husks and milk line at ¼ to ½ milk line. Wetter and cooler areas of the province are reported to be just at or near dent stage.


Early planted soybeans and early varieties are starting to have the majority of their leaves dropped, with harvest possible in the next week. The bulk of the soybean crop is yellowing to early leaf drop. Late planted fields (end of June) still remain green.


Winter wheat planting has begun on land that was summer fallowed or where early crops were harvested. The majority of the winter wheat planting will be waiting until soybean harvest is in full swing over the next few weeks.


Be sure to catch the next GrainTALK agronomy webinar on September 25 at 11 am. Dr. Art Schaafsma will review his findings from the 2018 corn sampling study. Find out how the industry can improve the consistency of the DON testing.

Soils @ Guelph held their official launch on September 19. Members of the soils community came out to participate and celebrate the launch of this outreach initiative that seeks to link the great work being done by academia, extension and the farming community.  By linking the soil community, we will be better able to help understand, share, and communicate the new learnings of Ontario soils.  The lysimeter tour at the Elora research station was a great example of what it takes to understand how our soils interact with our Canadian climate. This lysimeter is the largest installation in North America. It takes more than a million data points per day.





Check this link for more detail on the lysimeter. •

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