CROP SCENE INVESTIGATION – 28 SOLVED: The curious case of Quinn’s corn


The variation in emergence in Quinn’s corn was caused by worn double disc openers on his corn planter, which created a W-shaped seed trench rather than a V-shaped one. This produced great variation in seed depth which led to the uneven emergence in the later-planted fields.

Dekalb agronomist Sean Cochrane explains that when he inspected Quinn’s planter, he used his tape measure to determine that the discs had considerable wear and were one to 1.5 inches smaller than the recommended diameter for discs suitable for the planter.

CROP SCENE INVESTIGATION – 29: The curious case of row unit number eight


In late June, when Pioneer Hi-Bred agronomist Scott Fife walked across Bill’s 20-acre corn field in Dundas County, one in every 12 rows was significantly stunted. While all the corn had reached the eight-leaf stage, the stunted rows were much shorter and yellow in colour – very different from 
the dark green, healthy-looking plants in the other rows.

“There were no obvious nutrient deficiencies with the corn – no zinc, manganese, potash or phosphorous issues. It just didn’t look good. It had to be a planter problem,” thought Fife. He quickly made note that the poor performance was confined to the same row across the field, which was always planted by the eighth row unit on Bill’s 12-row planter.

CROP SCENE INVESTIGATION – 27: What happened to Larry’s wheat? – Solved


The poor-performing wheat in Larry’s field suffered from nutrient deficiency after he mistakenly adjusted the fertilizer rate rather than the seeding rate.

Agronomist Paul Sullivan explains that Larry had intended to increase the seeding rate on his drill as he finished up planting, but in his haste he somehow managed to change the fertilizer setting, reducing the flow of in-furrow starter fertilizer.

In his investigation, Sullivan ruled out many potential explanations – from spray injury to planting depth and seed performance. When he discovered that the plant population had not actually increased in the block of the poor-performing wheat, despite Larry apparently increasing the seeding rate, the pieces of the puzzle fit together.

The curious case of Quinn’s corn

Why did the emergence get progressively worse as he moved 
from the first field planted to the later ones?


In spring 2009, many growers struggled to get their corn planted in rainy, wet conditions. In early June, after the crop was finally planted, Dekalb field agronomist Sean Cochrane got a call from Quinn, a Hastings County grower, asking if Cochrane could help him make sense of the erratic emergence that he had observed in his fields.

CROP SCENE INVESTIGATION – 27: What happened to Larry’s wheat?


Agronomist and certified crop advisor Paul Sullivan spends a lot of time walking fields. In late June, you can find him out in wheat fields trying to determine the best application timing for fungicides. He knows what he’s looking for – a field that has even heading with 75 per cent of the heads on the main stem fully emerged.

But that’s not what he always finds. Last June, while evaluating a field for Larry, one of his grower clients, Sullivan spotted a curious looking area in the middle of the field. “There was this block that was not as advanced as the rest of the field,” recalls Sullivan. “It almost looked like a different variety. The plants were shorter and the heads were not out as complete as the rest of the field.”

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


The majority of Allan’s soybean field turned yellow due to a potash deficiency. However, the strips that could be found every 20 feet across the field were not potash-deficient and, as a result, produced healthy, green soybeans which led to this strange pattern in the field.

“When the soil tests came back, they revealed that the potash levels in the yellow areas were down in the 60s and the potash in the green areas was in the high 80s and 90s,” explains Keith Reid, soil fertility specialist for the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.

“The case really came together when we linked the pattern in the field to Allan’s combine and the fact that he left the straw on the field for six weeks,” says Reid.

CROP SCENE INVESTIGATION – 26: What’s ailing Art’s alfalfa?


When it comes to scouting fields, it’s tempting to do inspections through the windshield of your truck as you drive down the side road at 60 kmh. But farmers know it’s important to put it in park and hit the dirt, especially in corn, soybean and wheat fields.

Joel Bagg, a forage specialist with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, wishes forage fields, particularly alfalfa, were also on that list. Unfortunately, these fields too often get the drive-by treatment. Like other crops, it’s also important to dig up forage roots to find out what’s going on in fields that are not meeting expectations.

“The problem is that very few people ever do diagnostic work on forage,” laments Bagg.

Crops: Urban compost shows promising results for crop yields

The material from the Orgaworld plant in London has twice the organic material of mushroom compost, but the downside is that the salt content is high


Some London area farmers are turning to composted kitchen and yard waste to replace organic matter in their fields.

Dorchester area farmer John Killins and his partner Travis Woolings distribute composted material produced at the London-based Orgaworld plant and they also use it on their fields.

Killins, who farms 1,200 acres, tried the material – a “soil amendment” with the brand name Orgapower – on his 2009 corn crop, which led to a 15 per cent increase in yield and a better grade of corn.

Crops: It pays to use soybean seed treatments for early-season aphid protection

Using an insecticide seed treatment like CruiserMaxx Beans can bring a payback of more than one to 1.5 bushels an acre. In stressful years, it could be a lifesaver


After more than 105 trials in the last five years, we’re convinced that using an insecticide seed treatment, like CruiserMaxx Beans, in soybeans pays off. And, in a particularly tough weather year with heavy aphid pressure, seed treatments could turn into an early-season lifesaver.

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


Stan’s wheat field failed to meet his expectations because he didn't clean out the sprayer tank after applying his weed control.

While the tank only contained 90 to 115 litres (20 to 25 gallons) of the Pardner/MCPA 500/Tilt herbicide and fungicide application, this leftover spray packed enough wallop to injure Stan’s wheat and reduce yields by 50 to 75 per cent.

The big problem was the fact that the tank still contained about 100 to 120 ml of MCPA 500, an estimate based on the amount of leftover spray in the tank. This went back out onto the 23-acre wheat field – at a rate of 5.2 ml per acre – during a critical time in its development.