CROP SCENE INVESTIGATION – 25: The case of the 20-foot header


For Keith Reid, soil fertility specialist for the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, a soil fertility test is as powerful a diagnostic tool as an X-ray. But a fertility test often only confirms a diagnosis that Reid has reached after contemplating every field fact – from damage patterns to field history and even the width of a combine header.

This was the case when Reid arrived at a Bruce County soybean field in mid-July after a grower named Allan called seeking some advice.

CROP SCENE INVESTIGATION 23 SOLVED: Why did Arthur’s soybeans get ‘the streaks?’


The streaks in Arthur’s soybean field were caused by the high levels of straw in the manure that he applied randomly on the field before planting soybeans.

Generally, manure makes a positive contribution to a soybean crop. But the excessive levels of straw in Arthur's manure, and the heavy rate of application, caused a high carbon (C) to nitrogen (N) ratio, which actually starved the soybean plants of N.

CROP SCENE INVESTIGATION – 24: Why has Stan’s wheat stalled?


During the winter months, crop consultants such as certified crop advisor Mervyn Erb spend much of their time sharing the latest crop management insights with growers in preparation for the coming season.

“It’s great when growers come to a presentation, listen to your advice and act on it,” says Erb. But even the best advice can fall flat if growers are not careful and stray from best practices.

This was the case in August when Erb received a call from Stan, a Grey County grower, who had heard him speak at a meeting during a cold day last winter. “The grower recounted how I had shared my thoughts on using fungicides in wheat and the role they can play in disease control and enhancing straw quality,” says Erb.

CROP SCENE INVESTIGATION – 22 SOLVED: Whats the culprit in Bill’s sprayer tank?


Bill was correct in believing that corn, a monocot crop, can tolerate an application of most cereal herbicides. Unfortunately, corn can’t withstand cereal herbicides that control grassy weeds.

In this case, Bill’s Roundup Ready corn suffered serious injury after being sprayed with Achieve Liquid, a grass herbicide. Only 20 to 30 litres of Achieve Liquid and Buctril-M remained in the tank when Bill topped it up with water and glyphosate to spray his corn. But it was enough to cause considerable damage to Bill’s cornfield, explains Mike Cowbrough, the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Weed Management Lead.

CROP SCENE INVESTIGATION - 23: Why did Arthur’s soybeans get ‘the streaks?’


In spring, when growers see nice, even emergence across a soybean field, there’s an immediate sense of relief. But when random streaks of discoloured plants appear throughout the field, that feeling of satisfaction turns to dread as thoughts of vanishing yield overpower spring optimism.

That’s what Pioneer Hi-Bred agronomist Scott Fife encountered when he received a mid-June call from a grower seeking his advice.

“I got a call from Arthur, a dairy farmer, who was wondering if any growers were having problems with the seed variety he had planted. I told him there were no seed issues, but I would be happy to take a look at the field and help him get to the root of the problem,” Fife recalls.

CROP SCENE INVESTIGATION – 21 SOLVED: What’s the pest plaguing Jim’s corn field?


The pests feeding on Jim’s corn crop were millipedes. “In this case it’s important to remember that millipedes are classified as pests, not insects,” explains Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs entomologist Tracey Baute.

“There was a history of wireworm in that field and the grower was correct to treat the field with Poncho,” recalls Baute. “Seed treatments like Poncho and Cruiser are very effective in protecting the seed against insects but the millipede is not an insect and is not affected by the seed treatment.” She notes it’s extremely rare to see millipedes in the soil early in the season attacking corn seed.

CROP SCENE INVESTIGATION – 22: What’s the culprit in Bill’s sprayer tank?


Herbicides are great tools for growers to use in defending crops against yield-robbing weeds. But when crop injury occurs after spraying, the herbicide and seed technology is often at the top of the suspect list.

In some cases, however, the evidence just doesn’t add up and that’s when Ontario Ministry of Agriculture Food and Rural Affairs’ Weed Management Lead, Mike Cowbrough, gets a call.

One such case involved a corn field where the grower and several crop
specialists believed glyphosate-tolerant corn had been damaged by an application of glyphosate.

Crops: One farm’s approach to diversification – add red clover to your crop rotation

Oliver Haan and his wife Renate are finding that underseeding barley with single cut red clover is proving a useful source of feed and saving him $200-$250 an acre


Oliver Haan has big plans for red clover and he thinks the crop could benefit traditional cash croppers, too.

Haan and his wife, Renate, run a mixed farm operation on the back roads of Hastings County. Their primary product is frozen pork that is direct marketed, along with beef and other locally produced items such as vegetables and meat pies, at several area farmers’ markets. They also sell their pork direct to restaurants and caterers, as well as through a local food marketer. The medication-free pork comes from their 85-sow, farrow-to-finish closed herd.

CROP SCENE INVESTIGATION – 21: What’s the pest plaguing Jim’s corn field?


Corn seed treatments have become an important management tool for farmers, helping protect against insects that feast on fledgling plants.

When Tracey Baute, an entomologist with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, visits fields in the spring, she’s always on the lookout for insect populations that, in extreme cases, can overwhelm seed treatments. Often, the signs of insect damage are obvious, but the prime suspect is not always the guilty party, as Baute discovered last May when she visited Jim, a grower in Chatham-Kent. Here’s how the clues unfolded at Baute’s crop scene investigation.

CROP SCENE INVESTIGATION – 20: What teamed up to damage Matthew’s corn? – Solved


There were definitely a few issues with this corn field. You’re right if you guessed that nitrogen deficiency, soil compaction and/or slug feeding contributed to Matthew’s problem.

It made sense that the outside 12 rows looked better than the rest of the field when I learned that Matthew had opened up the outer part of the field last fall for early corn silage harvest. This meant very little trash was left on the soil surface in this area.