July 1st is Canada Day, and that usually coincides with the time we can start to assess the overall crop potential. This year has been a challenging one at the start with poor moisture conditions, low initial emergence and germination rates, and some seeds germinating and dying from lack of moisture.
The rain events since June 14th/15th and continuation of followup precipitation has definitely changed the potential, but one thing we do not know yet is how much yield potential was set prior to the rain, especially on the earlier seeded cereals and to some extent the earlier seeded canola (but for different reasons). Cereals typically set their yield potential early on, and combined with the lower plant emergence and dropping of tillers, there will be some reduced yields on our early cereals, but they have rebounded nicely and could still attain close to average yields. Our early canola had a number of factors early on – poor moisture and with shallower seeding depths (we did go to 1″ to 1.25″ deep compared to usually depths of 0.5″-0.75″ to try and place seed into moisture); flea beetles; and frost. There are 2 distinct stages in some early canola fields – with some areas that germinated earlier bolting and the other areas that didn’t germinate until the rain sitting at 4 leaf stage. This will make swathing a bit of a challenge.
Later seeded canola is looking good with above average potential, and later seeded barley and wheat also show potential for average to above average. Our biggest risk going forward will be an early or even average frost this fall. We will need to have 25C temperatures going forward to move this crop along or we could be looking at a later than normal maturity date for our crops.
Fungicide timing will start in the next couple days and will be spread over the next 10-12 days. We will be spraying all our barley and some of the later wheat. At this time the sclerotinia risk does not seem high so we might do a few of the later seeded fields that show the highest yield potential.