Pearce: Rain a good sign to most Ont. soybean growers

Some Ontario growers were happier than others to see the end of May — and for more than one reason.

The planting season across much of Ontario is all but done, and in spite of later-than-desired planting for corn, soybeans went in as expected. Yet aside from a late-month deluge, things were getting a little drier than many hoped it would be.

Weather had a hand in the discussions at the biweekly meeting of crop advisors and provincial extension staff last Tuesday (May 28) near Centralia, Ont. It was noted then that up to 95 per cent of the local soybean crop was in the ground, but that many of those acres were so dry, drills had a tough time penetrating into moisture.

Of further concern at the time was the impact of a cold spell the weekend before, when temperatures dipped to the freezing mark in several locations, raising concerns for tomato, strawberry and blueberry growers.

Adding further to the concern were midweek reports from the U.S. Midwest concerning the prevalence of soybean diseases — particularly sudden death syndrome — hitting soybean stands following heavier-than-normal rainfall in those states.

Back in Ontario, temperatures late in the week rebounded nicely, although heavier rains fell across much of the Middlesex-Oxford-Huron-Perth region. Yet in spite of standing water in many fields, mostly in the headlands, provincial soybean specialist Horst Bohner said he isn’t concerned with the higher rainfall amounts; in fact, the timing for many couldn’t have been better.

“Actually, the rain we’ve been seeing has been a blessing for the vast majority of us, because it was so dry and some of the seed was sitting in dry ground,” said Bohner. “That problem has gone away and because it’s so warm, I don’t expect any real crusting problems, unless the field was really driven on multiple times after seeding.”

Bohner added that sometimes, the bigger problem with heavier rains is whether a grower can get in to spray, given the timing windows for those applications. If the grower pushes matters, he can wind up doing more damage by running over seedlings.

Asked if there’s a greater chance of seeing more soybean diseases, Bohner replied that the warmer temperatures were likely to see to that potential.

“You have some disease possibilities, some early seedling diseases such as pythium, which likes wetter conditions,” said Bohner, adding phytophthora and rhizoctonia as a pair of diseases that also favour wet soils.

“But I’m not saying they’re more of a concern than usual because if there’s a lot heat and moisture, the soybean’s going to grow much more rapidly than it will under cool conditions, so it’s growing so fast now that it can outgrow some of those diseases.”

Portions of fields that are flooded still remain a small percentage — perhaps as low as two or three per cent, he noted.

“You kind of have to take the rain as it comes,” he said. “Once you get the soybeans through the ground, unless you have soybean cyst nematode or something like that, you’re usually off to a good start. And so far, I don’t see any reason why we shouldn’t expect good plant stands.”

— Ralph Pearce is a field editor for Country Guide at St. Marys, Ont.

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