Crops: The Lynch File

Crops: The Lynch File - Why forage yields have not kept up

Cost of harvesting and soil compaction are factors. And the yield potential of new varieties has not improved much in 30 years


Ontario forage yields have not kept pace with the other field crops. Current Ontario agriculture ministry statistics record Ontario’s forage yields in the last few years as about 2.4 tonnes per acre. This has slipped by about 15 per cent from the early 1980s, when the recorded yield was close to three tonnes per acre.

Meanwhile, corn yields have gone from 94 bushels an acre in the early '80s to 140 bushels an acre today. This is a 40-50 per cent increase.

Crops: The Lynch File - Why are perennial weeds still a problem in Ontario?

Though they are easier to kill than annuals, perennial weeds still cause problems because growers do not understand their biology or fail to kill them off completely


Perennial weeds are easier to kill than annual weeds. Give me a field of perennial sow thistle, quackgrass or bindweed any day instead of a field of ragweed or lambs’ quarters. When controlling perennial weeds, you have to understand where they are coming from. Once you know this and their weaknesses, they are easy to control.

Crops: The Lynch File – Solving the mystery of the ‘corn row effect’

Why do we not see it in all fields where corn starter had previously been applied? And why in only parts of fields?


This past spring, many wheat fields showed many of the “Forty Shades of Green” for which Ireland is famous. Some of this was due to manganese deficiency, some to nitrogen deficiency and some due to lack of phosphorus. Some of it was the result of poor root growth caused by various things.

Crops:The Lynch File - Spray your weeds early to reduce yield loss

You can lose up to one bushel per acre a day once weeds get to two inches, according to one researcher. Acting early can prevent major losses in yield


Do you believe you should wait for all the weeds to emerge before you spray your Roundup Ready crop? You may think you are saving money by just spraying once.
Or you may believe that, if you wait long enough, all the weeds will be up and subsequent flushes will not affect yield. You hope the crop will canopy before these weeds can affect yield.

This is a good strategy if your plan is to keep spray costs to a minimum.

It’s not a good strategy if you want to make the most profit per acre.

Crops:The Lynch File - How many soy seeds per acre do you need to plant?


For years, there has been open disagreement on what seeding rate you should use for soys. There has been some consensus that seven-inch rows require more seeds per acre than 14- or 15-inch rows. But after that there is little general agreement. Some of us have been advocating lower populations than others. All of us are using our own experiences to come to the best seeding rate. The seeding rate being put forward by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs this past couple of years is lower than what was once recommended. This is due to the hard work of Horst Bohner who has spent a lot of time doing on-farm trials on soybean seeding rates.

Crops: The Lynch File: Why corn growers say they can’t get an early start

Many reasons are advanced for not planting corn early, but the main one is that growers aren’t ready


Earlier planting over the past five years is part of the reason for the higher corn yields we’ve been experiencing. In fact, the corn yields in 2008  were the highest ever. Since the Ontario corn crop was planted earlier in 2008 than ever before, I have collected some of the most common reasons why some growers are reluctant to plant early. Each has a logical response.

Crops: The Lynch File – Your fertilizer rate is more important than placement

Some myths and misconceptions about different ways of placing phosphorus in the soil


There is a notion that if you put a little bit of fertilizer on the seed, that will be better than putting more fertilizer away from the seed. Some growers believe this.
It is like saying that, if you put a little bit of feed closer to a cow or pig, that is just as good as feeding them their total requirement but putting that feed a few feet away from them. You cannot grow a crop with inadequate fertilizer rates.

Crops:The Lynch File - What lay behind those 300-bushels-an-acre yields – and can we repeat them?

To get consistently high yields, we must be able to irrigate. Till then, we will need hybrids with good root systems


“So, Doug, how is the corn harvest going?”

“Well, I have seen something I never saw before,” Doug replied.

“The combine monitor hit 300 bushels per acre in spots in a couple of farms.”

Doug was not the only one making those comments this fall. In 1991, we had growers who hit 200 bushels per acre in spots just like growers did in 2008. For years, many thought we would not see yields like those in 1991. Of course, in the last two years individual growers have indeed averaged 200 bushels an acre on their farms.

Crops:The Lynch File: Rising seed costs and better seeding equipment put more emphasis on seed drop

Producers who can capitalize on better seed placement can make $5 to $10 an acre more than those who drop high seed rates


I have just left a grower with whom I talked about seeding rates of corn, beans and wheat.    

Grower: “How come the scout report says that there are over 175,000 plants per acre, some places over 180,000, when all I dropped was 180,000.”

Answer: “It could be that the scout made an error in the method of calculating populations. The standard size of the hoola hoop may not be accurate. Or it is possible that you were dropping more than you thought. The stand sure looks thick.”

CROPS:The Lynch File: Headline – snake oil or the greatest fungicide for corn?

Is Headline the greatest thing since Pursuit or Accent or Roundup?
Maybe not, but it could be the start of getting to the next yield plateau in corn production


In the last 35 years, we’ve have seen a lot of chemicals change the way we grow crops. In the early 1970s, we went away from 2,4-D and atrazine post-emergent herbicides on corn to pre-emerge and ppi herbicides. Corn yields went up. Based on what we know today, yields went up because farmers controlled weeds before they saw them.