CROP SCENE INVESTIGATION – 38: What’s behind the weed escape in Scott’s soybeans?


Every year, growers call agronomist Pat Lynch to seek his advice in solving crop performance problems in their fields. One of Lynch’s most memorable calls came from Scott, a Huron County grower who was really disappointed with the weed control in one of his soybean fields.

“He’s a very good farmer, who typically has clean fields. But, this year, his post-emergent soybean herbicide program had performed poorly. He paid good money for it and was expecting better weed control,” recalls Lynch, who notes that, other than custom combining, Scott does all his own fieldwork and dutifully maintains a soy-corn-wheat rotation.

Roundup Ready 1 rarity in this year’s seed lineup


The patent has expired on the original Roundup Ready soybean seed, launched by Monsanto 15 years ago, and growers are free to buy it in 2012 and save it for next year. The tricky part might be finding a company that will sell you that seed.

“Most have transitioned to Roundup Ready 2 because that is what growers want,” says Trish Jordan, spokesperson for Monsanto Canada, which won’t be selling Roundup Ready 1 anymore.

CROP SCENE INVESTIGATION – 37: What caused the yellow spots in that winter wheat?


Every spring, Peter Johnson sees yellow spots. It’s just one of those things that happens in winter wheat, says the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) cereals specialist.

The reason for those lighter-coloured areas in wheat fields is almost always manganese deficiency, particularly on sandy soils, muck soils and high organic matter soils. But, in 2011, many of the spots left Johnson scratching his head, searching for an explanation.

CROP SCENE INVESTIGATION – 36 The case of the disappearing nitrogen – Solved


Kelvin had indeed followed agronomist Paul Sullivan’s advice and applied the nitrogen his soybeans needed after they failed to nodulate. Unfortunately, an application error caused the nitrogen in one field to be spread only on 15-inch strips in the field.

As Kelvin explained to Sullivan, the fertilizer apron on the spreader, which delivers the fertilizer to the spinner, is controlled using the tractor’s hydraulics. The spinner, which spreads the fertilizer across the field, is powered by the PTO. As Kelvin moved from field to field, he would cut power to both the apron and the spinner after finishing a field and then move on to the next field.

Jerusalem artichokes and empress trees – new crops with potential

Though they are barely at the starting gate in Ontario, both show promise if market demand for biofuels continues to grow. But both also need processors to get them off the ground



Larry Whetstone’s business is selling inulin, a type of sugar derived from chicory crops in Europe, but he’d rather be selling inulin produced from Jerusalem artichoke crops in North America.

CROP SCENE INVESTIGATION – 36: The case of the disappearing nitrogen


Whenever you plant soybeans no-till into first-time soybean ground, there’s a high probability that nodulation will not take place. That’s a message that agronomist Paul Sullivan preaches every spring.

It certainly was a key point for Kelvin, an Ottawa area grower who converted a long-time hay and pasture farm to soybeans in the spring of 2011. In his conversations with Kelvin, Sullivan emphasized the need for scouting first-time soybean fields in early July and checking the roots for nodulation.


Five of the row units on Karl’s six-row planter had developed an inch and a half gap between the gauge wheel and the frame. This loose assembly allowed dirt to get into these gaps and caused the gauge wheels to lift on five of the units during planting.

Pioneer Hi-Bred agronomist Scott Fife explains that the lifting motion caused the five affected row units to have a different planting depth than the row unit that worked properly.

The unaffected unit planted seeds at the proper depth, allowing plants to grow more vigorously and to almost double the early-season height of the other five rows.

CROP SCENE INVESTIGATION – 35: What happened to Nevin’s soybean seed?


When Nevin moved to Canada in the fall of 2010, DeKalb field agronomist Sean Cochrane was happy to lend a helping hand.

Nevin had farmed in Europe and the committed no-tiller was eager to continue the practice on the four farms he had bought in the Pontiac region on the Quebec side of the Ottawa river. But, as Nevin quickly discovered, setting up a farming operation on such short notice presents challenges. And 2011 spring planting conditions – some of the worst in recent memory – didn’t help.

“He was in a tough spot,” explains Cochrane. Nevin had bought his equipment off the Internet sight unseen. And, while it was listed as “field ready,” it had some significant problems that needed to be addressed prior to planting.