Great Lakes Grain

Great Lakes Grain

September 02, 2010 16:32 ET

Great Lakes Grain We Know Markets Crop Assessment Tour 2010 "Preliminary Summary"

CHATHAM, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Sept. 2, 2010) - A three day odyssey across southern and mid-western Ontario concluded on Aug. 27 where FS agronomy and grain staff went on a crop scouting blitz capturing new field data to analyse and share with producers.

The Great Lakes Grain Crop Assessment Tour was a team effort that involved 20 two-men teams made up of FS crop specialists, certified crop specialists, customer service managers from FS PARTNERS and AGRIS Co-operative and grain originators from Great Lakes Grain.

"The following data is a result of observations made during the three day tour," said Don Kabbes, marketing development manager for Great Lakes Grain. "At each stop there was a soybean and corn field in close proximity. Ten teams scouted soybeans while the other 10 teams scouted corn. On the first night of the tour we trained for yield estimation protocols for corn and soybeans so that all teams observed and recorded data consistently throughout the tour stops," added Kabbes.

A total of 17 stops resulted in 2,800 corn and 1,575 soybean yield checks. "This experience provided the opportunity for new and seasoned staff to learn together while raising the bar on cropping knowledge," says Dale Cowan, senior agronomist for Southern Co-operative Services. Don McLean, agronomist for FS PARTNERS added that "this type of mentoring, sharing, teaching and observing crop conditions in our trading areas provided invaluable opportunities to sharpen our skills."

The following summations from the Great Lakes Grain Crop Assessment Tour are estimations only and not final research data, but rather observations. Nonetheless, a wealth of information and knowledge for staff and customers is contained in the captured observations. What follows is an initial summary of the three days.


Overall impression is a good crop. Average yields look good. However there is a wide range in yield estimations from field to field. Data collected at each stop was consistent amongst the teams. There was generally good agreement on yields, the teams were able to differentiate high and low yielding fields effectively.

This indicates that the protocol was sound and that the teams were disciplined in their approach. However, there was better agreement when observing on wide rows than when examining seven inch rows. Wide row beans consistently had higher estimated yields and less variability in plant population. Most of the soybeans were in the R6 stage of maturity, green seeds filling the pods at the four upper most nodes. 

To view the "Southwest Soybean Yield and Beans / Pod" chart, please visit the following link:

To view the "MidWest Soybean Yield and Beans/Pod" chart, please visit the following link:

Overall southwestern Ontario and mid-western Ontario soybean yields were estimated at 49.5 bushels per acre. The range in yield is from 33 to 74 bushels. The southwest yields from day one were 53 bushels ranging from 40 to 74 bushels per acre. The mid-western yields over all are 45.7 bushels per acre. However, excluding the northern trade area of Elmvale and Stayner, the average yields were 46.8 ranging from 33 to 57. The Elmvale and Stayner areas average 43.6 ranging from 40 to 47 bushels per acre.

Insect and disease pressure was light. The defoliating insects were easy to find, Soybean Loopers, Green Clover Worm, Bean Leaf Beetles and Japanese Beetles, however, defoliation was below the threshold of 20 per cent area leaf loss. White mould was found in numerous fields in small areas, bacterial blight, Sudden Death Syndrome (southwest Ontario), Brown Stem Rot, Phytophthora, Frogeye Leaf Spot, Downy Mildew, SCN were evident throughout southwestern Ontario but at low levels. Usually occurring in patches of soil compacation and wet areas. Septoria Brown Spot was in all fields but confined to the lower canopy were it does little harm.

To view the "Comparison of Soybean Population, Row Spacing, CV% of Plant Stand and Yield" chart, please visit the following link:

This chart summarizes the observations of estimated yield to row spacing and plant stand variability denoted by the CV percentage or coefficient of variation which illustrates how far the population counts varied from the average population of each field. Over the three tour days 17 fields were observed. Five of those fields were 20 inch rows, five were in 15 inch and seven in 7.5 inch rows. Observations concluded that lower population in wide rows with great consistency of distribution and higher yields compared to 7.5 inch rows.

The differences in corn planter versus the drill were obvious in uniform plant spacing and lower population variance averaging 166,000 plants per acre with only a 10 per cent variance from the average count. Drilled beans were much higher in population as expected at 230,000 plants, poor distribution, and 20 per cent variance from the mean populations and much more lodging. Lodged beans have half their canopy facing the ground and sun shines from above, therefore, photosynthesis is limited. If the estimates hold true there is an opportunity to both improve yield and sharpen the seeding rates with planter type units in rows of 15 to 20 inch. (There was only one site at 24 inches).

Weed control in the observed sites was a non issue. There were a number of pods that looked like they should have three beans in them but only contained one full one, often in the middle position. Four bean pods were common on most RR2 varieties. Pod and flower abortion was noted at several lower and mid node positions indicative of less than favourable growing conditions at that time. This was likely during the first half of July where we had eight days of excessive heat and we accumulated no heat units.


Overall the Great Lakes Grain trading area has a good corn crop. Average estimated yields from the southwest of our particular observation sites have corn averaging 173 dry bushels and the FS PARTNERS mid-western Ontario area at 180 bushels per acre. Removing the northern locations that are 14 days less in maturity, the average yield jumps to 186 for the mid-west. While the northern locations of Stayner, Elmvale and Beeton average 170 bus/acre. It seems the mid-west had less stress which has resulted in more uniform crop growth.

To view the "SouthWest Estimated Corn Yield, Hybrid by Plant Population and CV%" chart, please visit the following link:

To view the "FSPartners Overall Estimated Corn Yield, Hybrid by Population and CV%" chart, please visit the following link:

In the southwest, we encountered Western Bean Cutworm (WBC) at three locations; one in particular was very severe with three to as many as five WBC in single cob. Another low yield site was simply low in population. The average plant populations amongst the highest yielding sites average over 31,000 plants per acre.

The newer genetics can handle the stress very well. Most fields had signs of N deficiency which lowers the rate of photosynthesis and results in less sugar to fill the kernels. As a result, test weights may be challenged this fall. On three sites the group had the opportunity to estimate yields from its High Yield Test Plots. In the southwest, the higher input plots were averaging 230 bushels per acre against a field average of 200. In the mid-west, two locations were averaging 202 versus 186 from the field average and 225 versus 190 bus/acre. It will be interesting to see that actual harvest data. The yield was coming from mainly higher populations, higher N rates, protect N sources and fungicide applications. P and K were brought to higher levels because these are prerequisites for higher yields not a management input. You will not attain high yields with low P and K soil tests. On one site the teams observed P deficient cobs and sandy soils were exhibiting both K and Mg deficiencies. Fewer of these deficiencies were found in the high yield plots.

The overall impression of fertility is that there is a need to step up on Nitrogen management. Most likely, bushels are being left behind and not realizing the full genetic potential of each bag of seed. "We need to set the stage for success by providing an economic but non limiting environment to capture the yield potential," says Cowan.

Growing the crop is only half the battle but selling it profitably to maximize a farmer's return to land, labor and equipment takes an equal commitment. Having a year-long plan to capture one's marketing goals is as important as the hybrid, variety and crop inputs the farmer chooses. There is pretty big crop out there but how will it sell? 

Next steps:

FS crop specialists upon return to their respective branches will continue to scout an additional five corn and soybean sites together with their growers as a whole field assessment. This will provide an additional 200 yield data points to enhance the tour's current collection. The worksheets and spreadsheets on yield estimations will be in the hands of the FS specialists shortly.

More follow up videos will be posted to the Great Lakes Grain, FS PARTNERS and AGRIS Co-operative websites over the next few weeks. "This tour provided us with a wonderful opportunity to learn to become better agronomists who in turn will help us to help our customers become better farmers," says McLean.

The Crop Assessment tour was generously sponsored by Dekalb Seeds, Syngenta Crop Protection and GROWMARK, Inc.

Disclaimer: It is not the intention of this "Great Lakes Grain Crop Assessment Tour 2010" to definitively define the size of the crop or imply any marketing conditions or outcomes through the use of the information provided. The data here is an estimation of benchmark yield and crop conditions only on selected sites. This should not be construed as a provincial yield assessment or prediction in any manner. 

Great Lakes Grain is a grain marketing partnership between GROWMARK, Inc. and AGRIS Co-operative Ltd. Great Lakes Grain is one of the largest operators of Ontario country elevators. It represents close to 460,000 MT (18 million bushels) of storage capacity with total marketing in excess of 30 million bushels serving farmers at more than 30 AGRIS Co-operative and FS PARTNERS branded locations from Windsor through to Toronto and north to Georgian Bay.

AGRIS Co-operative Ltd. is a one hundred percent farmer-owned grain marketing and farm-input supply company and serves more than 1,200 farmer members in 14 locations in Essex, Kent, Elgin, Middlesex and Lambton Counties. It is a leader in precision farming technology, seed, agronomy and petroleum services. The co-operative is majority owner of Wheatley Elevators specializing in identity preserved grain markets and partner of Great Lakes Grain, a grain merchandising company. AGRIS Co-operative is a member-owner of GROWMARK, Inc. and markets products and services under the FS banner.

FS PARTNERS is a retail division of GROWMARK, Inc. that operates 18 FS branded locations throughout central and southwestern Ontario, serving more than 13,000 farmers and rural residents with products and services in agronomy, energy and grain marketing.

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