Crops: The Lynch File

Residual herbicides – an insurance policy for your GT soys

It only costs two or three per cent of your returns from the crop and is cheap at the price


There is one main reason why you should use a residual herbicide in glyphosate-tolerant soybeans. It acts as insurance. When you use a soil-residual herbicide, you are buying insurance that you will be able to spray glyphosate later if needed.

There are problems with spraying glyphosate in glyphosate-tolerant soys. The main one is Ontario’s weather. Often, weather conditions do not allow you to spray when you should. If it is too windy, you risk the glyphosate being blown off its target. If this has happened to you, you know the consequences are more calamitous than when we used to have off-target movement of hormone herbicides.

Two pieces of equipment you should think about renting

Most farmers cannot justify buying precision manure spreaders and conservation tillage tools. But they are affordable if you rent and share the cost with neighbours


Recently, I was doing crop plans with a poultry producer. His manure is concentrated and valuable and he was applying it at about three times the rate he needed to grow a crop of corn.

He was applying 210 pounds of usable nitrogen, 220 of phosphorus and 260 of potassium. When he should have been applying at three tonnes per acre, he was applying at closer to 10 tonnes per acre. The reason was simple. He had an older manure spreader that spread at about ten tonnes per acre. And it did not spread evenly.

Getting to the root of the problem with soybean yields

When you look at all of the information, the solution is obvious. You have to apply nitrogen to some fields to get the highest soybean yields


While corn yields are increasing due to genetic improvements and changes in management, and wheat yields are mainly increasing due to the use of more fertilizer and more disease control with  fungicides, soys are stuck in a pattern of slow yield increases.

While we have made some strides with earlier planting, yield increase due to better genetics has been small. In the past 10 years, a lot of breeding effort has been put into developing glyphosate tolerance in soys, but there have been few other breeding advances to give higher yields.

The lessons to be learned from La Niña

It will be a long time before we see a La Niña as strong as last spring, but we do have some of the same problems every spring that mimic those of 2011


Ontario producers did a great job in coping with this spring’s wet weather. Many thought it was just an unusual spring and adjusted. 

But it was not just an unusual spring. Spring 2011 endured the strongest La Niña effect since 1919. La Niña, which is caused by a change in the trade wind circulation, was responsible for the extra rain in Australia last year, seriously affecting the wheat harvest. It was also responsible for starting the drought in Texas and the extreme weather through the southeastern United States this spring.

Use conservation tillage to handle corn stalks

It makes for easier seedbed preparation in the spring and is the most exciting thing to happen in tillage since no-till was introduced in the late 1970s


If you are looking for a better way to handle corn stalks, you should have been at the demonstration at Canada’s Outdoor Farm Show last September. The challenge given to the 17 companies participating was to “show producers how you would handle corn stalks.”

Tillage of wheat stubble, soy ground and alfalfa is easy compared to corn stalks.

Ways to get higher yields for your forage

Too many producers are trying to save money at the expense of better yields. You can get higher forage yields, but you have to work at it


A quick check of the Ontario agriculture ministry’s record of historical yields by crop is interesting. In the last 20 years, soy yields have increased some, wheat yields have had a higher percentage increase than soys, and corn has almost doubled the provincial average yield in the last 20 years.

Forage yields on the farm have pretty much stayed the same over the past 20 years. Part of this is due to better quality and less volume, and part is due to the way data is collected. But the reality is that forages are treated less like a cash crop than they should be.

There’s more to scouting your fields than you think

Few farmers make good field scouts. Hiring someone to do it for you may be a better choice


How many times have you read a conclusion to an article which advises you to “scout your fields to find out?” It is certainly the way to watch for insect buildup, weed escapes and diseases initiation. You also can scout for timing of fungicides or herbicides.

But there is more to scouting than the above. Few farmers make good field crop scouts. Most do not have the time when scouting is critical. Some cannot distinguish between pigweed and nightshade or ragweed and red clover at the cotyledon to first leaf stage. This is the stage when you have to know what you have.

Some common errors made during May planting

Planting depth, crusting and weed control can all present challenges at this time of year. Some tips on dealing with them


There is so much going on with crops in May, it is easy to forget some things. I have gone back through my May notes for the past couple of years to come up with some common problems that arise in May.

The most common error in May is planting depth. Check planting depth of every row in as many fields as practical. The same depth setting will drop seed at different depths in different fields.   

The benefits of planting corn early

While early planting does not guarantee top yields, it does increase your chances



In 2010, Ontario farmers carried out a huge on-farm-trial, planting more than one million acres of corn in April. We have never planted that much corn that early. And Ontario had its highest corn yield ever, averaging 164 bushels an acre. There were many things that helped with that big yield. Early planting was a big factor.

There are risks with early planting. Frost is a concern. But Ontario farmers have lost more yield due to an early September frost than because of a May frost. Corn frozen at the two-to-three leaf stage will grow back.

Dealing with weeds that thrive in Roundup Ready crops

Using a soil-applied herbicide to control most of the annual weeds and then following with glyphosate as late as possible is one strategy that can help control weeds like perennial sow thistle in Roundup Ready corn and soys


Some perennial weeds are becoming more prevalent because of Roundup Ready crops. This is because of less tillage and time of glyphosate spraying. The worst of these weeds is perennial sow thistle. A few annual weeds also thrive if you do not use a soil residual herbicide.