Ontario Grain Farmer March 2024

The winners of the Great Lakes YEN competition for the highest yield potential include: 1. Mark Davis (Napanee, Ontario) – 117.6 per cent 2. Jeffery Krohn (Elkton, Michigan) – 107.2 per cent 3. Wallace Loewen (Middleton, Michigan) – 107.2 per cent The winners of the highest yield are: 1. Jeff Cook (London, Ontario) – 173.4 bushels/acre 2. Nick Suwyn (Wayland, Michigan) – 171.43 bushels/acre 3. Jeffery Krohn (Elkton, Michigan) – 167.1 bushels/acre 2024 GREAT LAKES YEN WINNERS 11 ONTARIO GRAIN FARMER Dr. Basso hopes that the benchmarked data collected through the YEN and the process-based models his team is working on will be used to develop strategic and tactical management decisions that could someday help farmers calculate their sustainability metrics, such as a carbon footprint. PANEL DISCUSSION Jeff Cook, who farms near London, Ontario, was joined by Jeffery Krohn from Elkton, Michigan, and Jonathan Zettler, Certified Crop Advisor and owner of Fieldwalker Agricultural Services, for a grower panel session. All three have participated in the Great Lakes YEN program since it began in 2021 and have made small changes to their cropping practices every year based on the data in their final reports. For example, Cook has updated his planting equipment and has started using the results of his soil and tissue tests to adjust his inputs; and Krohn now prioritizes preserving the health of his soils, carefully keeping track of how the plant uses nutrients throughout the growing season which is now possible by comparing the results of the nutrient results he receives after taking his soil, tissue, plant, and grain samples as part of the YEN program. Zettler shared that with the multiple fields he provides agronomic advice on, the most important consideration for farmers is how their drill performs in high residue environments. He also emphasized the importance of recording tillers per plant in the fall (as this influences the number of heads per plant) and noted how he has seen growers who have taken part in the YEN program over multiple years make small changes to their crop management every year to improve the yield potential they can achieve continually. Jonathan reiterated the importance of high biomass — all his top growers in the 2023 YEN program had higher-than-average biomass. THE 2024 YEN The YEN program prioritizes grower-to-grower networking and on-farm learning. Throughout the day, attendees had plenty of time to ask detailed questions about best management practices, recommendations for the year ahead, and what updates will be made as part of the 2024 Great Lakes YEN program. Farmers were able to learn about what practices other winter wheat growers and agronomists plan to implement in 2024, whether it be the timing of crop inputs or adjusting their row width in future years. A special thank you to all the farmers and agronomists who worked together to make the 2023 season a tremendous success. Thank you also to the sponsors who support this innovative program, without which the Great Lakes YEN could not exist in its current form. The 2024 Great Lakes YEN program is currently underway, with more than 200 fields involved across the Great Lakes region of Ontario and the United States. Alexandra Dacey is Grain Farmers of Ontario’s agronomy project coordinator. • Cook has updated his planting equipment and has started using the results of his soil and tissue tests to adjust his inputs. MARCH 2024