Monday, 26 November 2012

2013 New Product Line Up

Every year there are new products released from the chemical companies, sometimes these products are tough to keep up with. Now a days a lot of the time you will see old products just topped up with a new active ingredient that has just gotten registered in Canada. Going into the growing season it is always useful to have a handle on what is out there and how it can help your operation. I’ll go over some of the new products that have been registered in Western Canada for the 2013 growing season.
BASF is releasing a couple new products this year, one seed treatment and one foliar fungicide. The seed treatment is Insure and what it has going for it is the same active ingredient as Headline, pyraclostrobin (fung group 11). The other actives in this product are triticonazole (fung. gr. 3) which is strong on fusarium species such as seedling blights and metalaxyl (fung group 4) which is excellent on pythium species of root rots. The pyraclostrobin component of this seed treatment will give some of the plant health benefits known with strobilurin fungicides (gr 11) including increased cold tolerance in the spring, giving your crop a better chance against those May frosts. This is done, in short, by creating a healthier plant that allows for a higher degree brix (sugar content in plant) which is more tolerant to freezing. Pyraclostrobin also beefs up the activity on most of our seedling disease species such fusarium, cochliobus and some others. In trials this year, I did notice a little more “pop up” effect or vigor compared to the competitor treatment,  about a 2 day faster emergence give or take half a day. Note: The pyraclostrobin is a different type of concentration than what you would buy in Headline, potentially being toxic to seed for anyone who was thinking about just buying Gemini or the like and throwing the Headline in.
Next, BASF has a new foliar fungicide called Priaxor DS. This product is a combination of Headline (pyraclostrobin, gr 11) and an active which BASF coined “Xemium” (fluxapyroxad, gr 7). This product is meant for use in pulses to control anthracnose, aschochyta as well as suppress white mould, and can be especially effective on chickpeas when you are applying 3+ fungicide applications, resistance to strobilurins can be an issue, this product really helps out there. I have seen it in trials the past two years with some great results, not just against the check, but against other products such as Headline. I have personally seen as high as 6bu/ac increase in Peas over a check and 3bu/ac increase over Headline in Lentils over the past couple of years (Note:  these may have been different rates of active ingredient vs. what is registered for the 2013 season). Some of the benefits of fluxapyroxad is the increased Ascochyta activity over and above what the pyraclostrobin already offers. It also offers some suppression of white mould as well. The length of protection is also supposed to be slightly longer than Headline by itself. Lastly, resistance to strobilurins is a real concern, having a group 7 fungicide can go a long way in fighting this concern and lengthening the shelf life of the strobilurin fungicides in Canada.
Couple more notes on BASF products, Twinline (metconazole+pyraclostrobin) fungicide for cereals will be available in larger quantities vs. being limited supply in 2012. Lastly, Viper ADV (imazamox+bentazon) will now be available in a pre mix liquid form, where as prior it was a granular and a liquid. Note: UAN (28-0-0) will still be separate.
Syngenta has came out with a new active ingredient known as sedaxane which they have put into their Cruiser Max product line. I will mainly touch on the cereal Cruiser Max line, but this new active will also be in their Pulse line up for sure. It will also be added into their Helix Vibrance seed treatment on canola. Rhizoctonia has been a growing concern for root disease in Western Canadian soils for the past little while and this active is one of the best on it. There are a number of different AG groups (essentially different “pathogenicity” groups or different sub species within the rhizoctonia family) in western Canadian soils and this product is strong on some of the most commonly occurring species. Another note is that one knock against using Dividend or Cruiser Max Cereals from Syngenta in the past is the lack of True Loose Smut control, sedaxane fixes this problem. Other actives in this product include difenconazole, metalaxyl and thiamethoxam (insecticide). It will be known as Cruiser Max Vibrance Cereals.

Final note, Syngenta will also be releasing their fusarium head blight fungicide in larger quantities this year. Their product is called Fuse with the same active ingredient as Folicur from Bayer (ai: tebuconazole, gr 3).
Just after talking about one new rhizoctonia active ingredient, I will touch on another. Prosper EverGol from Bayer will be the new seed treatment on their canola seed for 2013. The new active is group 7 again (lots of new group 7 fungicide products in the pipe) and is known as penflufen. This actives claim to fame is the rhizoctonia control. I haven’t had any experience with this product, but in my research it seems it will be a good option to stay on top of rhizoctonia in your canola. The other actives in Prosper EverGol are Clothianidin (insecticide), trifloxystrobin (gr 3) and metalaxyl (gr. 4) on top of the penflufen. This may be an active that Bayer works into a pulse seed treatment in the future.
Monsanto has went a unique route in their newest seed treatment by adding a biological component. The biological is bacillis subtillis which may be familiar as it is in other companies fungicides or stacked inoculant products. What this means for your crop is enhanced stress tolerance and decreased disease susceptibility through the biologicals ability to stimulate a plants Systemic Acquired Resistance (similar to our immune systems). This response increases specific hormones or phytoalexins (eg: salicylic acid) that help plants overcome these situations.  In my small scale experiences with this product it did seem to enhance early season vigor, but I did not personally see/get any info on a yield bump. Other actives in this product known as Acceleron include difenconazole (gr 3), fludioxinil (gr.12), metalaxyl (gr.4) and thiamethoxam (insecticide).
These are the new products that are currently registered for the 2013 season that offer newly registered or released actives, there will be new generics of other products released as well I am sure. I did touch on a lot of seed treatments this time around and sometimes it is tough to follow exactly what every active is offering you for control, see my seed treatment write up from May to help clear some of this up.

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Increased Cereal Seeding Rates

Increasing Seeding Rates in Cereals

When it comes to seeding I often find alot of growers who consistently seed their wheat or durum at 75lbs/ac, or somewhere in that range. This may achieve a decent plant stand, but opens you up to a few factors as I will discuss later. Plant stand density achieved through a seed rate like that is going to depend on several factors such soil temperature, whether the seed is treated, depth etc. What should be happening is growers are sending away their seed for a seed test to get levels of disease as well as their, germ, vigor and thousand kernel weight. What you can do with this information is plug it into this thousand kernel weight formula ((lb/ac) = desired plant population/ft² x 1,000 K wt. (g) ÷ seedling survival rate (in decimal form such as 0.90) ÷ 10.4) and play around with your target plant stand density to get an accurate seeding rate. What I want to talk about today are some of the benefits of targeting an increased plant stand density of something like 28-35plants/ft2 vs targeting 20-24plants/ft2.

The first thing I like about a higher seeding rate is the "insurance" type aspect. With wireworms levels climbing in alot of areas across the prairies and suppression options that need them to feed on 1-2, even 3 seeds before it knocks them out, you can still lose a significant percentage of your stand in some situations. If you target 32 plants per foot square then you can afford to lose a couple plants in a foot squared area, where as if you only have 20 plants to begin with, you are losing yield potential.

The next benefit is increased weed competition. This allows your crop to choke out weeds vs. it being the other way around. A vigorous stand with more plants is going to more efficiently cover that ground and out compete weeds. This is even more helpful if you are held up a few days or more at in crop herbicide timing.
This increased competition is evident within the crop itself as well. More plants forces them to actively scavenge for nutrients and water, and this forces them to grow at a faster rate to capture sunlight. What this means is that you are pushing your crop along at a faster rate, decreasing time to maturity. I had a producer in my area this year do a trial where he seeded at the rate he normally did (85lbs/ac) and then do part where he seeded at about 130lbs/ac. The maturity difference was about 6 days. This could be huge in years with an early frost or years where seeding is pushed back late.

Increased plant stands typically show increased stage uniformity across the field. The reason for this is that when you have a lower stand, you increase tillering. Sometimes tillering is inconsistent and it takes an extra 3 days or so (give or take a day) for extra tillers to develop. If you have areas of the field producing an extra tiller that puts your staging difference at around 3-4 days. Doesnt sound like much, but all of a sudden you are looking at spraying for fusarium head blight and this can significantly affect efficacy because of the off timing in parts of the field.

I just touched on fusarium head blight and another area that increased seeding rates help with quality and length of time susceptible to stresses such as insects or disease. If you have increased tillering (say 1 main stem, 4 tillers) that means you have an increased length of time that your crop is  in anthesis and therefore susceptible to wheat midge, ergot or FHB.  If you only have 2 tillers, then that decreases your length of susceptibility by atleast 5 days or so (compared to 4 tillers).
On top of this you typically get 50% of yield from your main stem, and 25% of yield from each of the next 2 tillers. This adds up to 100% of yield potential. Are you willing to lose quality for zero gain in yield? To put even more emphasis on this, why would you want your crop uptaking more nutrients to put into a 4th tiller when you arent gaining from it? It is a waste of energy for the plant.

There has been wetter years recently and more plants does help in cases of excessive moisture. Under drought conditions is the only time where you may see a negative drawback on higher density levels.

Some may have good luck with low seeding rates (I was in a durum field seeded at 45lbs/ac this year, 6 tillers per plant), but I would highly reccommend giving a high seeding rate a try on atleast one field. I talked about my trial earlier and this grower will be seeding everything heavier in 2013. It is a reletively inexpensive investment per acre and has some real benefits.

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Soybean Hype

Soybean Hype

Soybeans have been getting a lot of hype over the past couple months with acres in western Canada estimated to rise significantly for 2013. Soybeans are one of my favorite crops to deal with ever since I worked with some my first couple years of scouting. Soys do have significant upside for return, especially with the prices, but I want to talk about some things that seem to fly by the way side when I hear about soybeans lately.

Heat Units

We all know the benefits of soys in Saskatchewan for example, low disease pressure, lower input costs than canola, Roundup Ready trait, rotational benefits and the list goes on.

But we have to remember that breeding varieties suited to our Saskatchewan and Alberta areas is relatively new, and there still isn’t any really short season varieties. Our shortest varities are sitting in the 2325-2350 Heat Unit (CHU’s)  range. Generally speaking, there are some areas across Saskatchewan and Alberta that receive these sorts of numbers, but remember these aren’t CHU’s from May 1st, they are from May 15-25, once soil temperatures are in that 12-18 degree Celsius range! Now there will be some variation in varieties due to day length and other specialized traits some varieties have, but overall you want to get as close to those CHU’s as possible to achieve maturity with a decent yield. You would still get some yield if you only got 2150CHU’s for example, but the yield would be reduced along with the quality.


Soybeans will use a good amount of water under ideal conditions, and aren’t deep rooters so scavenging for water is limited. The other consideration is that their peak water use occurs at later flower-pod development sort of time frame, for Saskatchewan and Alberta growers this is going to fall in that late July-early August time frame, which happens to be a typical dry time for us. The negative if we do happen to get a rainier than normal July is that could mean cool, damp conditions which aren’t what we want for our soybeans to reach physiological maturity.


Soybean price is influenced in part by the USA, as we all know. Their drought is the main contributor to the large price jump of soybeans that sparked the increased interest in non-typical growing areas such as Saskatchewan and Alberta. We can’t be sure that the prices for soybeans are going to be as strong as they are now. The first reason being the largest ever seeded soybean acerage in South America (Brazil) and the forecast for good growing conditions (it is still early and a couple more months will tell how the weather affects them). This could significantly affect the price and bring it back down well below $15/bu. The other thing often forgot about is that the Americans will still be putting in another soybean crop around the same time as ours will be going in. The size of their acerage as well as conditions are ultimately going to play a role in where the price goes. Not that it’s a surprise to be a slave to the markets, but in talking with guys one thing that sparked interest in soybeans was the price. If large crops come off in S. America and the USA in the next 12 months then soybeans may be closer to $10/bu than 20$bu, and all of a sudden that 25 bushel an acre bean crop (which would be a high end average for a 2100 CHU, average moisture year, growing area) isn’t as profitable as once thought. Plus the risk of that early frost taking out a large chunk of your yield is always there.

I do believe that once the breeding is farther along and we can knock another 100-200CHU’s (or more) off of the shortest season varieties without sacrificing much yield we can grow soybeans with a consistent profit. There are even some areas across Saskatchewan and Alberta that can grow soybeans right now on a consistent basis. I am not trying to scare anyone away from soybeans, just play devils advocate to all the hype. I do hope producers still try some soys, but on a 20, 40, maybe 80 acre basis to start vs. an entire section. Trying small acreage now can get you the experience with them and develop a comfort level with producing them that allows you to be successful soybean grower once some shorter season varieties, more suited to your area are released.

Monday, 8 October 2012

Dont Forget About Sulphur

When I first started working in the agriculture industry I spent my entire month of May blending fertilizer. At this point in time when a grower came in and asked for a “34-17-0” blend, I was a pretty happy guy. It meant effort and less chance of screwing up, win-win for me as an 18 year old trying to make a few bucks in my first summer job. Now a days when someone asks for that blend, I cringe.

 Plants need numerous nutrients for proper health and development, some being required, others being beneficial. All of these nutrients are important, but macro nutrients tend to be the ones needed in the largest quantity. These nutrients include nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium and sulfur (and calcium and magnesium depending who you talk to). I want to focus on the importance of sulfur today.

Having a proper fertility package is one of the most important things when starting off your crop in the spring, but it is very often overlooked. I like to put it into terms of us as people, we have 3 essential macro nutrients being protein, carbohydrates and fat. If we were only to eat carbohydrates and proteins, we would begin to run into a whole world of problems due to malnutrition from lack of fat. This occurs with plants as well, even if we don’t see obvious deficiency symptoms, the plants are still weaker and losing yield because of it. Leipigs Law of the minimum shows us that a plant/crop can only produce as much its most limiting factor will allow it. If we only have sulfur in the soil for 30 bushels of wheat, you will be hard pressed to get any more out of that crop due to the lack of sulfur. Sulfur has some key benefits in plants, including being a component of amino acids and enzymes.

Canola is the first crop I would like to touch on why it is important. Many are aware of this due to its promotions by groups such as the Canola Council and many agronomists. What is often left out is why is canola such a heavy user of sulfur? Many growers never ask, and a lot of individuals that promote sulfur don’t really know the specifics behind why canola needs so much. This isnt going to get technical, just some basics and the basics come down to the plant family canola is a part of, Brassicaceae. This family of plant also includes mustards and even vegetables like cabbage and cauliflower. This family of plants has secondary metabolism compounds known as glucosinolates. These compounds are made up mainly of sulfur. The main reason these compounds are important is due to their ability to increase a plants defense system/stress tolerance against pathogens or insects. If we under fertilize sulfur on a canola crop, these compounds begin to be broken down by an enzyme so the plant can use the sulfur else where in the plant, meaning the plants defense system is taking a back seat to other basic physiological processes. This can open your crop up to increase disease or insect risk and increased susceptibility to stresses such as heat. Sulfur is also a component of phytoalexins which are part of the systemic acquired resistance of a plant, or part of its natural defense system There is more that sulfur does in canola as well, but this is the quick and dirty version. Remember, ratio’s of nitrogen to sulfur are important as well. 5:1 (N:S) being the range you want to be in simply because for every 5 lbs of N your crop is going to use 1 pound of S under ideal conditions to achieve the yield you want.

Wheat is often overlooked even more so than canola when it comes to sulfur fertilization. Again, understanding the importance of sulfur in wheat is important. I stated earlier that sulfur is important in amino acids within plants, amino acids are constitutes of proteins and usually a higher protein in wheat means a higher premium. The most common practice to increase protein in wheat is with a late N application, which is fine and consistently works. But since we know protein in a plant isnt made up of only nitrogen, but sulfur as well we can see that sulfur may be the magic trick to bumping yield a bit along with protein. Ratio’s for wheat of N:S are ideally in the 7:1 range.

Lastly, I want to note the importance of sulfur in pulses. All to often I run into growers who don’t fertilize their pulses at all, then there are a few that put down phosphorous, but consistently the few I deal with who put down a full, balanced nutrient package with their pulses have the highest pulse yields. Pulses are high in protein, and as just said with the cereal section, sulfur is a key component of proteins within the plant. The reason many individuals aren’t aware of is its role in activating enzymes that are important for nodulation and nitrogen fixation. Being able to more efficiently fix nitrogen, especially once plants get to flowering when pulses are really needing N and the plant isnt focusing as much on rooting or nodulation can be that extra few bushels of yield you are looking for.

To calculate a range of sulfur your crop will need here are some uptake numbers:

0.25lbs of sulfur/bushel of wheat
0.6lbs of sulfur/bushel of canola
0.25lbs of sulfur/bushel of peas
0.13lbs of sulfur/bushel of lentils
Simply put if you want a 100 bushel wheat crop, your crop is going to need about 25lbs of sulfur per acre (100 bushels * 0.25lbs/bushel/ac)

 Remember to keep sulfur in mind when doing your fertility planning for next year.

Going to try and focus a little more on some nutrient importance over the winter when writing as I feel this is the area where many growers could get major yield bumps from. Properly balancing your macro's and then going in and touching on your micro's is a tactic that I think has the most influence on yield, especially in comparison to some like which seed treatment to use. Nutrients each have many roles in the plant, but I want to try and focus on key factors that a nutrient might have in a specific crop.
Note: Try and do a soil test to see where sulfur levels are in your fields and remember sulfur is very mobile in the soil so you may have 7lbs in one spot and 32lbs in another. Also, I am sure you have heard that sulfur comes down with rain and irrigation water, but it is still great practice to monitor levels and try sulfur on your farm if you havent already.

Source: Marschners Mineral Nutrition of Higher Plants

Sunday, 30 September 2012

Fall Herbicide Applications

Post harvest glyphosate applications are a very effective method to gain control of perennials and winter annuals before heading into the winter. Controlling them in the fall is effective because weeds such as Canada thistle, dandelions etc are beginning to shut down for winter and therefore actively translocating sugars to their roots to over winter, the glyphosate gets translocated efficiently down as well, killing the plants at their roots. This leaves a much cleaner field come spring to seed into and reduces the headache of trying to get rid of these difficult to control weeds (Note: fields should still be considered for pre burn applications in the spring).

With all of this said, the temperature fluctuations and potential frost threats in the fall make spray timing a more difficult task, so it is best to follow some simple guidelines when it comes spraying at this time of the year.

Glyphosate (like most non-residual actives) is a product that can be touchy if sprayed at a time when it is not readily absorbed and translocated within the plant. This means to watch time of day spraying (glyphosate is notorious for being less effective sprayed in the late evening or early morning) and conditions before and after the frost, on top of the weed species you are targeting and the severity and length of the frost. Lots of growers believe that if a killing frost has already hit, their post harvest spray season has ended, but that isn’t necessarily the case.

If you have a hard frost of (-4 degrees C or colder) then you must wait before going into spray any weeds. It is best to wait anywhere from 48-72 hours before going into assess the severity of the frost damage. If you go out and see the plants are still remaining over 50-60% green, there are signs of active growth and the weather conditions have begun to be more favourable, then aiming to spray the next day once temperature have risen to above 10 degrees C for over 2 hours would be your next opportunity to hit that field. Remember, there shouldn’t be frost in the forecast for the next couple days either.

If there was simply a light frost (0 to -3 degrees C), this only slightly affects perennial and winter annual weed control. With that said, time below freezing can come into play and it is still good to go out the next day and assess the plants. Typically, if it was a light frost like this and you go out and spray the following day once temperatures have reached 10 degrees for a couple of hours (and no frost in the forecast) then you should be safe. Giving the plants an extra 24 hours after a light frost can be an effective strategy though.

It is best to spray glyphosate in the middle of the day, especially late in the season like this. If you can catch a warmer, sunnier day, then it is even better. To further it even more, if you get a nice shower, go in the next day and you will see an increase in efficacy as the fall moisture gives the plants a big perk and from what I have seen significantly helps fall glyphosate effectiveness. As for rates, I personally don’t like to see less than a 1L equivalent of glyphosate used when trying to take down any perennials or winter annuals.

I always recommend putting a second chemical in with the glyphosate such as 2,4-D, Express, Dicamba, Florasulam etc. as having a second mode of action is effective in decreasing the potential of glyphosate resistance and also because these products all have a residual in some capacity. I am not going to touch on these to much as the date they are used, rates, soil texture, soil moisture, soil temperature, organic matter and more come into play when determining what can be seeded there next year, if you have any specific questions feel free to ask or talk to your local agronomist as they will be aware of what products will be effective for your situation in your area. I will note that florasulam and Express (tribenuron) typically have strong activity on asteraceae family weeds which is what family our thistles fall into.

Dandelions are generally considered to be the most frost hardy, while Canada thistle, sow thistles and perennial/winter annual grasses are thought to be less frost tolerant. Also, keep in mind if you were late harvesting you must assess the plants regrowth and you should see new leaves being put out by the plant before spraying.

Spraying in the fall is the most effective way to clean up the perrenniels/winter annuals in your field so if you can take advantage of that you’ll be happy you did come the next season.

Monday, 3 September 2012

Canola Variety Considerations

With companies starting to roll out their early booking canola information, I figured I’d put together a quick checklist for determining what variety will be best for your farm. The top varieties are also the first to sell out, so if you know what you want it is best to book them right away.

The first thing most guys look at is yield. Ultimately this is the deciding factor for a lot of growers. Don’t always listen to the seed companies themselves as sometimes I find their yield numbers to be a bit higher than you might see on your farm. Take a look at the third party canola council data, check with local retails and research programs and you should get some good answers. Lastly, talk to your neighbour, knowing what variety grows well in your area is key. Just because a variety yields like crazy in Manitoba, doesn’t mean it will yield the same in southern Saskatchewan.

Standability is something that has come to be noticed a lot this year. A variety that stands better is a lot easier to swath or straight cut and also is less prone to main stem sclerotinia infections than a variety that is laying over. I have always noticed Bayer’s Invigor 5440 to stand up well, even under high inputs (eg: fertilizer). Talk to some neighbours and see what they have noticed with varieties. Some other varieties I have noticed that consistently had good standability are VT 500, Canterra 1900 series, Brett Young 6060 and Invigor L130 and L120.

Shatter resistance is another thing to watch for when choosing a variety. This is especially true for those that want to try some straight cutting. This trait is one that a lot of breeders are building up in their lines as losses due to shattering show up not just in loss bushels, but weed control in the years to come.

Disease resistant is becoming talked about more and more every year. Almost all varieties these days come resistant to Fusarium Wilt and Blackleg. With that said, when it comes to blackleg ratings there is something to note. The first off is that even an ‘R’ rating can still have up to 30% infection of blackleg (this is why you will hear company reps saying it is a “strong R rating”, meaning their variety will only have up to 10% infection vs a weaker R rating having 27% infection). Moderately resistant or ‘MR’ can have anywehere from 30 to 49% infection. On top of this blackleg strains continue to develop and evolve in western Canada and can overcome some of the resistance genes that are put into our canola. These different strains belong to different pathogenicity groups or PG’s, this is important because you may have a variety that is resistant to a couple PG’s, but not another one which is potentially the strain of blackleg you will see develop in your canola. On a side note, Dekalb is coming out with an exciting variety called BL 74-44 which has multi group black leg resistance. Sclerotinia resistance is becoming talked about as well in a number of varieties, I have minimal experience with them, but be aware they come at a premium cost and are only resistant up to about 65% (meaning under a high risk year you can still have up to 35% infection). This means you may still have to spray a fungicide. The other concern I have been hearing is a yield drag, meaning to get the Sclerotinia tolerant gene into the variety they may be giving up some of the superior yield genetics you would find in a non resistant crop. With that said, I have read plenty of research without any indication of yield drag, so something to look into more. Club root resistance has been developed into varieties for a couple years now with the Peace River region being the main target. If you are concerned with clubroot at all, these varieties may be good candidates to look into. Remember, disease resistance genes are not a substitute for a good rotation.

Herbicide tolerance is something else to consider, you may want to mix up the herbicide groups on your farm so an Invigor variety that is tolerant to Liberty (glufosinate ammonium group 10) might be a good route for you. Some growers may have had a group 2 residual issue from having lentils or peas on the land the year before, but want to put canola on that piece. A Clearfield (group 2 tolerant) variety will grow through the group 2 residual with no issues. Then there are the group 9 glyphosate tolerant varieties which allow for a very effective herbicide product to be sprayed on a piece allowing you to do a good job of cleaning up a dirtier field.

Last thing to note are premiums. Some specialty oil varieties such as Nexera and the new Invigor 156H offer premiums based on a per bushel or per tonne basis. This can be very lucrative, but remember try not to give up to much yield potential if you do opt to go this route. An extra dollar a bushel is always nice, but if you can grow a variety that may yield 10% more, you may see a higher return from that variety on the yield vs. the variety with the yield and the premium, so keep that in mind.

One quick thing to watch for, especially if seeding begins to drag out is days to maturity. A variety like Invigor L120 is going to save you a number of days vs an variety like L150.

The amount of research going into canola these days is extremely exciting. Yield potential is going up and variety traits such as drought tolerance and increased herbicide tolerance are right around the corner meaning higher yields, less susceptibility to yield threats and more money in your pocket.

Here is a list of 3rd party data from 2011 to check out:

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Fall Frost Threats

We are getting to that point where the first frost of the fall could come up any day, but just because the temperatures dipped doesn’t mean that your crop is a write off. There are a number of factors that come into play from crop type to length below freezing.

 Quick explanation on what a freeze event does to a plant; When freezing occurs in the plant it causes the cells to expand causing them to burst or rupture.

The first factor that comes into play is the humidity. Cooler air will hold less water than warmer air. When temperatures drop to below where the relative humidity (RH) reaches 100% (dew point), the air becomes oversaturated and condensation occurs. When water changes from liquid to ice it will give off heat. As the dew on the plant is begins to freeze it gives off heat which can help keep the plant tissue above freezing point. So as water is freezing on the outer parts of the plant, the temperatures remain at about  0  degrees C until all the dew has froze. At this point there is no longer protection for the plant which is when we run into the issue of time below freezing and how it can affect the plant. If it begins to warm up right after this point, damage should be minimal, if temperatures continue to drop or stay around that point then there is potential for damage to occur.

The next thing to take into account is that the liquid within plants does not necessarily have the same freezing point as water. There are sugars, proteins, and a number of other solutes occuring in the plant. These other substances within the plant can take the freezing point anywhere from 2 to even 5 degrees (or more) lower than it would be without them. This shows us that a healthier plant which may have a higher degree brix (sugar) or higher protein content etc may in fact also be hardier than a less healthy, diseased plant.

Temperatures and stress leading up to the frost event can also be a driving factor in how much damage you will see from a frost. If temperatures have been cooler leading up you may see a tougher plant that is less susceptible to light frosts. Other stresses can also cause plants to shake things up a bit with hormones and photosynthate distribution etc. that allow a plant to tolerate lower temperatures, as we all know plants are very efficient at adapting to stress. The speed at which temperatures drop can be a factor as well, the faster they drop bigger the concern for damage.

Moisture content of the crop is another big concern, if your crop is still sitting at 50% moisture then it is a much higher risk than a crop sitting 30% moisture (close to swathing stage in other words).

Each crop has a different susceptibility, much like seedling frost tolerances vary by crop.


Canola is susceptible at a temperature of about -2 to -3 if it is sitting at a higher moisture content like I commented on above. Frost damaged canola dries down very rapidly locking in green seed count. If you have a canola crop ready to swath you may escape damage and if you have a canola crop that is below 25% moisture you should be relatively safe from damage. To avoid losses from a frost in canola you can swath prior to a frost event, ideally 48-72 hours to escape damage. This can be effective even at 0% seed colour change to avoid some of the damages. The other comment I have on canola is even a light frost of -1 degree C can have an impact on the enzyme that helps clear chlorophyll which may also cause green seed to get locked in. Remember to inspect fields after a frost, ideally 48-72 hours to look for frost damage. If it is a severe frost and you see significant damage, swathing immediately is recommended.


Again moisture content comes into play with cereals, if at a milk stage they are more susceptible to frost than a soft dough stage. For example a slight dip below 0 at milk stage may cause losses (shrivelled seed), but at soft or later dough stages they can tolerate upwards of -5 degrees. Cereals that have gotten a frost can be significantly impacted when it comes to germination, so be weary about using frost damaged kernels as seed. Cereals may take a week or so before you can truly evaluate damage. Wheat tends to be slightly more tolerant to fall frosts than barley.

Obviously, there are other crops, but I’m going to leave it there. If you have any questions about anything or on other crops feel free to ask.
Source: Sask Ag

Monday, 6 August 2012

Pre Harvest Glyphosate and Desiccation

Lentils are the main crop that will get hit with Reglone (diquat) and I will touch on them first. Ideally the staging is so that the lowest third of the plant pods are rattling and the seed itself is hard and doesn’t split, the middle third of the plant will be hard and not juicy, but will split nicely into 2 halves and the top third will be full size, but immature. This is also the proper stage for glyphosate timing. The MRL of glyphosate did get increased to 10PPM (same as peas) this year so you are able to use glyphosate if you wish. Be aware glyphosate is NOT a desiccant. It will kill the plants, but it does very little to increase dry down like Reglone will. A glyphosate app still means you could have 10-14 days or more till the proper harvest timing, where as 4-7 days (can be 10) is typical time from Reglone app to harvest.

Peas proper staging for Reglone/Glyphoate is the bottom third of the pods will have seeds detached and rattling with the pods being translucent and shrunken, middle third will have shrunken and leathery pods and will split when squeezed, upper third will just be starting to turn. Again, glyphosate is not a desiccant and will only speed up harvest by a few days or so vs. no glyphosate.

When it comes to using Heat (saflufenacil) from BASF there is no MRL set and I would suggest to avoid using it if you can to save yourselves from having to deal with a buyer denying your lentil crop. If you do decide to use Heat be aware that it will not be as effective as Reglone, atleast not in my experience. You also must use an increased rate as opposed to the 10.4g/ac (80ac/jug). You should use atleast 14g/ac and ideally use upwards of 20grams per acre (40ac/jug) to see better results.

Aim (Carfentrazone) from Nufarm is also registered as a desiccant. You have to increase the rate significantly to get the results you want. In my experience it is a product that will still get the job done if you decide to go this way.

For wheat and barley(not malt) timing of glyphosate, you are looking at close to the same time as swathing. The wheat and barley will be at 30-35% moisture, or hard dough stage. A finger nail imprint will remain on the seed. You can get away with maybe 2-3 days before a typical swath timing would be, but remember if you go in to early with glyphosate the seeds will appear shrunken and it will have a similar appearance to frost damage. In wheat you may also look at the peduncle which is the stem located just below the head, and it will have turned from green to a brown colour.

Remember glyphosate is much better on perennials so if you have a field with lots of quackgrass, Canada thistle etc. then using glyphosate is your best route to go. Not going to be effective to tank mix them, but if you want to get the best of both worlds then using glyphosate first and then hitting with Reglone 3 days later is probably your best bet to get dry down and good perennial weed control.

Some notes on Reglone:

-Reglone prefers water pH of <7

-Ideally use 15-20 gallons of water per acre, the more the better.

-Doubling up on surfactant can be very effective to ensure chemical penetration into the plant.

-Be sure to increase PSI to above 50

-I have heard mixed comments on nozzles, Twin TurboJet seem to be a good option though.

-LI700 is a surfactant that helps get the chemical into the plant as well as lower pH, seen good results with it. Rate is 0.1% v/v, 0.2 if you want to double the rate. Note: Syngenta wants 0.25% v/v to support this adjuvant use.

-If you are using an AgSurf product for example then it is reccomended to double it.

-Reglone is a contact that reacts off UV light so spraying in the evening allowing the chemical to get into the plant is a very effective route to go. This means it is fully soaked into the plant for the next morning/day. You may get some slight local systemicity vs. straight contact as well if sprayed at night due to it soaking in a bit better within the leaves.

-Very rainfast, 15 minutes.

-Reglone prefers hot temperatures so if you can time it so that you spray in the evening and the next day is HOT, it will be more effective.

-Reglone is a group 22, this can be an effective chemical to change up herbicide groups in your rotation.

-The rate is 0.7-0.8L/ac typically, heard of guys going 1L/ac. My main tip with the rate is don’t assume that since you are going the high rate you can cut the water volume, in my experience going the lower rate with higher water volume is MUCH better than going high rate with a low water volume.

It has been a while since my last blog post, hopefully I shook the rust off and wrote one that some get atleast a little bit of info from.

If you have any questions or comments feel free to ask.

Sources: Syngenta Canada

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Determining Whether to Spray a Fungicide

Determining whether it is worth while to spray a fungicide for disease can be a difficult thing to asses. The first thing I always say about fungicides is you need to look at them like they are insurance. No one knows they are going to get hail, but they still get hail insurance. Maybe this is an extreme example, but it atleast gives you an idea of how these products need to be viewed. Based on my experience, if conditions are good (or under irrigation) I strongly recommend a fungicide because time and time again they atleast pay for themselves and protect yield at the very least.  I will mostly focus on cereals, but some of the notes can be used for a number of crops.

The first thing you need to look at is the conditions. Is there moisture and the proper temperatures? Typically if you have good growing conditions, you have good conditions for disease to develop. Most diseases, generally speaking, enjoy lots of moisture and that 20 degree celcius temperatures range. Also remember, when you crop canopies over, it has its own microclimate in there which can be very different from the conditions you feel when you step outside, so get out to your field and see what it is like under the canopy. Heavy dews are more than enough for disease spores to germinate. Remember to check the forecast moving forward too.

Next thing to ask is how good does your crop look? If you have a great crop coming it typically means you had/have the conditions for disease to develop, and you want to protect that crop. So keep that in mind. Where I am originally from in west central Sask, in 2010 there were great growing conditions during the year and great looking crops. The area hadn’t heard of Sclerotinia before, let alone seen it, and it moved in and had 50bu/ac looking lentil crops go less than 5bu/ac. Disease can move in fast, the guys that sprayed preventatively actually had a crop.

If your crop is wheat on wheat for example then your field is a good candidate for a fungicide application. Disease such as tan spot and septoria over winter on stubble from the previous year so the pressure is going to be even higher on those fields so go out and scout those first.

When it comes to leaf disease in cereals especially, always remember to take off some flag leaves or penultimate leaves (second from top) off and hold them up to the sun, if you see some light “pinhole” looking speckles that is the beginning of disease. You have about 8 days from the time a disease spore lands on a leaf until it has reproduced again and you see the big, yellow/brown spots on your leaves. This is when the rain splash, dew, animals etc move the spores up the leaves. I have always been told that assuming there are good disease conditions, whatever your leaf below looks like that’s what the leaf above it is going to look like in 5-7 days. So for example if you have 20% infection on the penultimate leaf, a week later there will be around 20% infection on the flag leaf.

With a “curative” fungicide such as some of the active ingredients in the group 3 triazole family (Caramba, Prosaro, etc) these products have the potential to suppress the disease up to about day 5 or 6 in the lifecycle of the disease, so if you have a lot of small pinholes on your leaves you can guarantee more are coming and it probably is best to apply a fungicide to ensure you maintain a high yield potential. Always remember it is best to spray preventativley before there signs of heavy disease pressure, once it moves in the damage happens fast.

There is also the plant health benefits some products bring to the table such as the strobilurin family of fungicides (group 11) so these can help pay for the fungicide and further help a plant yield better and fight disease. Some of these benefits include, increased nitrogen use efficiency, water use efficiency, and decreased ethylene producttion. Examples of these products include Headline and Quilt.

A great leaf disease basic formula I got from Steve Larocque`s Beyond Agronomy Newsletter is as follows to determine yield loss:

Percent Loss= .66 X % of flag leaf area infected + .50 X percent of penultimate leaf area infected divided by 2.

Example: 10% Flag leaf infection and 20% penultimate leaf infection on what looks like will be a 50bu an ac crop.

                .66 X 5% + .5 X 20% divided by 2

                = 6.65% yield loss X 50bu = 3.3 bu an acre loss

Assuming $7.50 a bushel Red Spring prices 3.3 X 7.50 = 24.75 an ac LOSS.

Note: Some leaf diseases are more aggressive than others, such as rust being more yield robbing than tan spot. This is a ball park.

Sclerotinia yield losses in canola typically look like this:

% infection divided by 2 = yield loss.

Example: 15% infection on a 40 bu an acre canola crop = 7.5% yield loss = 3 bu an ac

Using a $13 a bushel prices = 13 X 3 = 36 bushel an acre yield loss.

There are also the quality issues the diseases cause, especially with Fusairum Head Blight. You lose yield AND quality.

Always know the target disease you are going after, that way you can talk to your neighbours or local agronomists or reps about what product is going to be the most effective on what disease and at what stage. For example, just because you do not have any leaf disease, does not mean that fusarium headblight isnt going to be an issue so an application may be warranted at head emergence. Also, remember fungicides don’t last for the rest of the plant life cycle, typically after 14-21 days (depending on product) the fungicide will begin to wear off and the plants will be susceptible to disease again. Note also that spraying a fungicide after heads have begun to fill (in cereals) typically isnt economical, the disease has done most of its damage. You are just revenge spraying at that point. The flag leaf and penultimate leaf of a wheat crop combine to photosynthesize and produce upwards of 60% of the total yield so that shows how important protecting those 2 leafs are.

Always remember the disease triangle. Host, Pathogen, Environment. There needs to be all three present for disease to develop and flourish. For example if you are concerned about Fusarium Headblight in Durum then Durum is the host, if you have had FHB in the area before then the pathogen is present and if conditions are in that 20 degree range and damp for a period of time then you have the environment. This means there is a good chance your crop will have some FHB in it.

This was all over the place, I apologize, hopefully there is still something everyone could take away from it.

Friday, 15 June 2012

Excessive Moisture

There are some places across the Canadian Prairies that are seeing above average rain fall and therefore some laying water in the fields. Rain is almost always a good thing, but there are times when it can be detrimental to yield.

The first thing excessive rainfall does, as many are aware, is cause leaching of soil mobile nutrients. The 3 most mobile nutrients being Nitrogen, Sulfur and Boron. The lighter (sandier, lower CEC) the soil, the more nutrients will move. For example, for every inch of moisture accumulated, nitrate nitrogen (plant available) can move downwards of 10” in the soil profile of a sandy soil! This tends to be only about 3” for every inch of rain in a clay loam soil.

Another problem you run into is denitrification. This is caused by conditions where there is a lack of oxygen in the soil (anaerobic conditions), so microbes essentially begin to breakdown and use the nitrate. Once soils get very saturated these organisms tend to already be active and begin the process of denitrification more readily the next rainfall. This on top of leaching can cause for large amounts of Nitrogen losses.

When it comes to herbicide breakdown there can be issues with excessive moisture as well. Usually, we see a more rapid breakdown of residual herbicides under good moisture conditions, but to much moisture can cause herbicides not to be broken down and put you into the same situation you might run into under excessive drought situations. This is due to soil microbes that break down residues not being active under flood situations, essentially the microbes start to drown. This can keep residues around longer and cause some injury to your canola after Pursuit (imazethapyr).

Anaerobic soil conditions lead to other issues in many crops as well. In your pulse crops you will see a significant reduction in nodules on your roots, therefore a reduction in nitrogen fixation (lots of moisture steals nitrogen a number of ways!). This is again due to the bacteria not being able to survive under excessive moisture. You will also notice decreased root hairs and mycorrhizae fixations in crops like flax which will hinder yield.

 The next thing you will see is typically a yellowing and purpling of the plants whether it be canola, lentils or wheat. The reason for this is due to plant stress and because roots struggle to grow and take up nutrients, so partly what you are seeing is some early macronutrient deficiencies such as phosphorous, nitrogen or sulfur.

Even though most organisms tend to be negatively affected by excessive moisture, you will see root rots and diseases caused species such as pythium and rhizoctonia. These diseases prefer wet conditions and can cause significant yield loss.

After all of this you end up with a weaker plant and therefore a plant more susceptible to other types of disease (rusts, white mould etc) and conditions that are favourable for their development. Even once it dries up a bit you still are not out of trouble!

Canola is typically seen as the best at surviving flood situations. In my experience Invigor varieties seem to be even more superior than RoundUp Ready. I have seen canola be under water for up to 5 days without significant yield loss, and even seen upwards of 10-14 days, but this is where you begin to see significant yield reductions (40%+). Wheat is very good at tolerating the water as well with minimal reductions in yield even at 2-4 days under water, beyond that I have not experienced, but can imagine yields would begin to drop off. Barley is slightly worse than wheat tolerating upwards of 3 days. Flax is next followed by lentils and peas which are very sensitive to flooding, seeing yield reductions even after 24 hours. If you get into your crops that prefer warmer temperatures then you run into even more issues, like with corn, dry beans and soybeans. The rain typically means cooler temperatures, less sunlight and cooler soil temperatures which these crops extremely dislike. Corn can see yield reductions of up to 35% in under 72 hours.

At the end of the day I really like Luke Bryan’s song “Rain is a Good Thing”, but in some instances it most definitely is not a good thing.

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Deciding on a Foliar Fungicide

Fungicides are options for all growers crop input arsenal. There are a number of stages where fungicides are generally applied, typically targeting different diseases, especially in cereals. Determining when is the best time to spray can be difficult, but you need to identify the main disease you are going for. With fungicides typically being in short supply, it is best to make a decision early and book the product you need at your local retailer.
I am going to start off talking about pulses. When it comes to pulses, the 2 main time when you will apply a fungicide is with your herbicide, typically something like Headline from BASF is sprayed if there are any fungicides applied with herbicides in pulses. This is to keep diseases like ascochyta slowed down until flowering when you can go in with another fungicide application. If using a product strobilurin fungicide you will also see some plant health benefits that include increased N use efficiency, water use efficiency, decreased ethylene production and a grocery list of other benefits. The next time that is typical for a fungicide application is from beginning of flowering up until about 50% flower, under high disease years there may be a need for other application beyond this stage. Products like Quadris (azoxystrobin) from Syngenta and Headline (pyraclastrobin) from BASF are very good options for ascochyta, if anthracnose is what you’re after then Quilt (azoxystrobin and propconizole) from Syngenta and Headline again are very good options. (Note: Quilt isn’t registered on ascochyta, but I have seen it do a relatively good job at holding the disease back in lentil). If you are concerned about Botrytis and sclerotinia (white mould) then Lance (boscalid) from BASF is a great option, or you can go for the heavy hitter fungicide Headline DUO which is Headline and Lance and get a whole spectrum of pulse diseases. If you are strictly going for sclerotinia then Lance is your soul registered option in lentils, or peas, but in a crop like Beans you have options such as Allegro from Syngenta. There is Serenade (bacillus subtilis) , a bio fungicide from UAP as well.  In the coming years there looks to be a couple new options becoming available from companies like Bayer and BASF that are apart of group 7 fungicide class (SDHI’s) that are looking very promising.
Note: There are some other fungicides for pulses out there such as Proline (prothioconazole) from Bayer, but is used in limited amounts on pulses due to its lack of activity on a number of diseases and price.
When it comes to canola the first option you have for a fungicide is to hit it with your incrop with a full rate of Headline. This is going to decrease blackleg infestations as well as give the plant some added health benefits as discussed earlier. When it comes to 20%-50% flower this is the time you are going to be aiming for control of sclerotinia. There are a number of products out there to help combat this disease, they include; Proline, Astound (cyprodinil,fludioxinil) from Syngenta, Lance, Quadris, Rovral (iprodione) and Serenade. The products that are used most in my experience tend to be Proline and Lance. Astound is a newer product, but shows potential, especially if you do any reading on 3rd part research on the disease and fungicide controls. There is a new option this year from Dupont called Vertisan (penthiopyrad) which may be an option for you to try as well. Most of these products will do a good job, it may come down to what you feel comfortable with, fits into your programming or is easiest to get your hands on. Doing side by side trials is a great option to see which one works best for you.
Wheat is the tricky one. The first option you have again is at in crop timing to tank mix Tilt (propiconazole) with your herbicide. These typically can give you a good start on decreasing leaf disease levels if there is an early infestation, especially if you are later spraying your crop (5 or 6 leaf). I have read some research showing half rate Tilt had very little difference in efficacy vs full rate. This typically will give you 7-14 days protection. Spraying a product like Stratego (trifloxystrobin and propiconazole) from Bayer with your in crop herbicide can cause it to heat up the herbicide and cause crop damage, this is due to the strobilurin portion, watch spraying any strobilurins with your herbicide tank mixes. The next time to spray a fungicide on cerals is flag leaf stage. The flag leaf and penultimate leaf can combine to contribute for upwards of 70% of total yield, so protection of these 2 leaves is very important. If you are trying to control a disease such as stripe rust then there are a number of options including Folicur (tebuconazole) from Bayer which has very strong activity on rust, Caramba (metconazole)which is also strong on rust and Quilt which is strong on rust as well and provides increased length of protection as well as some better systemicity. The new Twinline fungicide from BASF is a combination of Headline and Caramba and should offer very good activity on rust as well as on other leaf diseases. If you are simply trying to control septoria, tan spot, spot blotch etc. then there are a number of options including all the fungicides I have stated previously. Products like Quilt and Headline are going to have some added plant health benefits due to the family of fungicide they are, so good to take that into account as well. When it comes to fusarium headblight control in my eyes the top two products are Prosaro (tebuconazole and prothioconazole) from Bayer and Caramba. The group 3 triazole family of fungicides has very good activity on fusarium species diseases. Both of these products are very good, in my research there are slight differences though. Prosaro has 2 ingredients, one which is faster acting (tebuconazole) and one which provides longer control (prothioconazole). The research I have done consistently shows that Prosaro has the slight edge in actual suppression of the disease, while Caramba has the slight edge in actual DON levels on the kernels (DON is the mycotoxin produced by FHB infection) based on the fact it is better at decreasing colonization of the bacteria that produce the mycotoxin. Leaf disease is strong with these products as well.
Choosing a fungicide can be tough, but go in and ask questions about your specific situation at your local retail and they should be able to give you the answers you need to make an informed decision.
I didn’t break down every fungicide in depth as I would have liked, but if you have any questions on specific ones feel free to ask and I should be able to give you some information to help.

Thursday, 31 May 2012

Saving Money on Herbicides

Today there are a number of herbicide options for almost every weed and every crop. Even for your specific situation there is usually a number of herbicide options, so how can you decide what product to use or if you should spray at all? Well there is a number of questions to ask before pulling the trigger.

The first is simply do I need to spray at all? Whether this means not spraying a grassy herbicide or broadleaf herbicide, you may not have to spray one of them depending on the weed pressure within your field. A grassy herbicide is typically very expensive and if your field is relatively free of all wild oats and grassy weeds then is spraying a grassy herbicide economical? Probably not. Sure you can keep the odd one in there from adding to the wild oat seed bank the next year or you simply don’t like seeing those dreaded things popped up above your crop, but saving upwards of $18/ac might be worth viewing that less than perfect picture. A wild oat population of 10 per m squared throughout your field is going to cause a loss of only about 5-7%. Using easy numbers of 5% and a 50bu/ac wheat crop means a loss of about 2.5 bushels. 2.5 bushels equates to about a loss $17.50 at $7/bu commodity pricing of wheat which means that only at about 10 wild oats per meter squared is a grassy herbicide justified. Obviously, you need to take into account dockage and control in following years as well, but that’s a rough picture of what determining economic thresholds should look like.

The next thing to look at is what chemicals control the target weeds in the field. You do not need to buy the best product out there when it isnt justified. Prestige from Dow is a great product, but also very pricey. If you simply are targeting seedlings of red root pigweed, wild mustard and flixweed in your field for example then an application of a product such as Target from Syngenta is sufficient for control of these weeds and saves you a number of dollars per acre. So being aware of your problem weeds and going with a product that gets the job done is fine, you do not have to go with the top product out there all the time. Lots of products have 3 active ingredients these days and that typically means those products are more expensive, if a product has only one or two active ingredients then it is typically cheaper. If the product with only two actives will get the job done on your problem weeds then you should be going with that product to save some extra dollars. The money saved can be put toward an extra burn down active the following year or a post harvest burn off.

Be aware of the stage of the weeds in the field as well. Attain/Octtain from Dow smokes kochia, a typical problem weed in a lot of areas, but a number of other products will work as well that cost several dollars less per acre. If you have kochia in your field that is loonie size then products such as Thumper from Bayer and Target should provide adequate control. Attain will easily control bigger sized kochia, but if you are going to be in the field before the kochia is past seedling size then why not go with a product that saves you  a few bucks?

When a products patent runs out that means it is free game to be produced by any other chemical company. These companies that produce generic products once the patent has run out typically sell their product for cheaper than the original version even though the active ingredient is the same. These products will do virtually the same thing to the weeds in most cases and be just as safe on your crop, yet they will be sold for a few dollars an acre less. Be aware of the lack of “backing” if a you run into product issues though.

Lastly, pay attention to company rebates. Lots of the times these days companies such as Bayer, BASF etc will have a rebate program that gives you certain percentages back if you go with their herbicide and fungicide for example. If you know you are going to be spraying a Bayer fungicide on your cereal crop and you have the option of spraying one of their herbicides on your crop and can get a 3% rebate for example from this product combination then you should make the choice to go with the Bayer herbicide.

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Herbicide Efficacy

In crop spraying season is just around the corner for a number of growers in western Canada. Spraying at the proper time allows your crop to use nutrients and moisture without having to compete against various weeds, as well as allows your crop to metabolize herbicides more readily. What I want to focus on now is the importance of checking herbicide efficacy.

I know a lot of growers who choose their generic clodinafop or fenoxaprop product and generic Buctril M year after year in their cereal crops and never really go back after they spray to get a better idea of what really occurred after they sprayed. This is why a lot of them spray the same herbicide year after year, assuming it did the job they wanted. A lot of the time that is the case, but sometimes they are giving up yield.

There are a number of things to check for when doing herbicide efficacy checks. The first thing I like to look at is the crop safety. I like to look at the newest leaf coming out as well as the older leaves and general colour and look of the crop. If you run into issues it could mean you had a rough tank mix, improper timing or sprayed when the conditions weren’t optimal. This is also why if you have proper notes you can check back and confirm staging was proper, tank mix was fine, but your records show that the temperatures dipped down to 5 degrees the day after you sprayed which can alter a products safety on the crop. This way you know for the future how your crop reacts to certain products under specific conditions.

Next thing to look for is weed control. I like to put percentages on things to gauge an idea of if control was where it should be or if there was something that went wrong. The way to do this is to do random counts throughout the field on the problem weeds and determine just how well the product worked by looking at how many plants of a specific species are dying and how many are simply hurt and will regrow. You can keep these records for the future and next time you have a wild buckwheat problem for example you can note that Benchmark for example was the product over the past few years that gave you the best wild buckwheat control meaning you have an easy decision in years to come if you have a field with a wild buckwheat problem.

Checking out the efficacy also allows you to find funky patterns of weeds getting out of control. This can mean there was an issue with heavy, heavy weed pressure and the coverage wasn’t there, which may be something to note for next year that if you have fields where the weed pressure is very heavy you must increase water volume. Secondly, it could mean you have ran into resistance issues. If you sprayed with a group 1 grassy herbicide and you are noting very specific patches across the field where wild oats didn’t die it may be a good time to take samples and send them away for a resistance test. Lastly, funky patterns can also show if you had certain misses through out the field which could mean your GPS was potentially off, causing some misses.

Weed control can also be compromised when you are looking at products that prefer to be in solutions that aren’t a high pH. This means that there are some pesticides that can be antagonized by waters with a pH above 7. If your water has been tested and is high when you are using products like glyphosate or group 1 dim herbicides for example then you can expect some diminished weed control. This will be noticeable as weeds will be sick looking, and regrow, almost like they had been sprayed with a cut rate of the product. If you haven’t got your water tested and note scenarios like this out in your fields then it may be a lead for you to look into.

Noting conditions your products were sprayed in and keeping records and then checking herbicides efficacy can be an effective way to decide on what products to use in future years. You can also determine what conditions they thrive in or what conditions they are not as strong in. Taking some extra time to check efficacy 7-21 days after spraying can save you some headaches later on in the growing season.

Monday, 21 May 2012

Being Progressive

The one thing I notice when it comes to differences in farms these days is how progressive they are. It seems to me the ones that are more successful are the ones that are willing to try new things, or not do things the way their great, great grandpa did necessarily.

There are many ways to be progressive, the first, in my opinion, is actively seeking out information on your own. If you are on Twitter, or reading this for example, you probably are one of those people. The amount of information available online, the ability to connect to others in the industry and just the mass amounts of research out there is incredible, and hasn’t been greater than it is today. If individuals aren’t attempting to take advantage of this, they are being left behind.

The guys trying out new products are the ones moving towards bigger yields and bigger profits. This can begin from simply treating seed, adding on seed primers, attempting growth hormone regulators or using fungicides. There are new products out there every year claiming different things and while a some are full of it, others may be a fit on your farm. Some look at being progressive as being expensive, which it can be especially for those in areas that aren’t guaranteed the needed amount of rain every year. But all I am suggesting is buy 20 or 40 acres worth and compare it to an untreated check. You don’t have to do the whole farm, nor would I suggest doing the whole farm off the bat, but how are you ever going to make your farm more profitable if you don’t try new things? If you stick with what has gotten you average yields forever that’s all youll ever get. The guys out trying new things will be the ones fine tuning their cropping plans to make a higher profit and eventually end up expanding and buying the land others cant afford to buy or to farm anymore. Farming is tight for margins and squeezing every extra bushel out can make the different some years.  If you try new things and don’t get a 3:1 return on your investment then your money may be better spent elsewhere.

I do a lot of reading on unique farm practices from around the world, and when it comes to new machinery tweaks or concepts there is a lot of potential here. I look at Steve Larocque of Beyond Agronomy and am thoroughly impressed with the new things he is trying such as controlled traffic farming. Now, going as far as him may not be for everyone, you have to crawl before you can walk in other words. I was touring with a guy in my area the other day and simple little things that might not even increase yield, but increase productivity can be a big difference. One of the things he had done to his seeder allowed him, he said, to go at speeds of 7mph and achieve better seed beds/placement than at 5mph. Now I cant confirm if this is true, but its an example nonetheless. Another thing he showed was his home made seed treater that was cheaper than buying a manufactured one, quicker to use, more mobile and gave better coverage on the seeds. Again, Im just going off of what he told me, never seen either unit in action. But it is little things like these that can save time by getting seed in the ground quicker, save from paying your hired men for as many hours and allow for higher yield potential (referencing to Ross Mckenzie’s work on losing x amount of yield potential per day after a specific dates if seed isnt in the ground).

Starting off with little things can go a long way and show that new practices have potential to be effective. The most progressive farmers I know tend to be the ones actively growing in size and constantly setting the bar higher for yield in their given area. Note: Here is a link to Steve Larocque's Nuffield report on Controlled Traffic Farming.

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Identifying Nutrient Deficiencies

Crops are emerging, and as of right now you probably arent seeing any sort of nutrient deficiencies in your fields (hopefully). But as the crop moves forward and begins searching for more nutrients as its supply from the seed runs out you may start running into some issues, especially if you are in extreme situations such as drought or to much moisture.
Nutrient deficiencies are common problems with in any field. A deficiency can rob your crop of yield so identifying a deficiency early can ensure you still achieve your target  yield. Here is a list of the common nutrient deficiencies and symptoms. If any deficiency is seen please contact your agronomist immediately and a proper plant tissue test can be taken to get to the bottom of the problem. If test come back positive a proper fertilization plan can be put together.

Italic font is role of nutrient in plant, regular font are a description of deficiency symptoms.

Nitrogen (mobile in plant)- Slow, stunted growth, delayed maturity, chlorosis (yellowing) of older leaves, burnt tips and margins.
Nitrogen is utilized by the plant to synthesize amino acids, produce chlorophyll, nucleic acids and enzymes.
Phosphorous (mobile in plant)- Slow, stunted growth, purplish discolouration of older leaves, poor seed development.
Used in plants in DNA and RNA, for cell division growth, energy transfer and storage in cells, stimulates early root growth and vigour, hasten maturity and aids in seed production.
Potassium (mobile in plant)- Causes tip and leaf margin burn in older leaves, lodging (weak stalks), reduced seed size.
Aids in translocation of sugars and formation of starch, involved in water regulation, disease resistance, root growth, a reduction in lodging and increases seed quality.
Sulphur (immobile in plant)- Yellowing of newest leaves. *In canola it can cause slight leaf cupping and purpling as well.
Sulphur is an important component of proteins in plants, and aids in seed and chlorophyll production. Helps with nodulation in legumes.
Calcium (low-no mobility in plant)- Can cause stunted and deformed growing tips in new leaves, or can cause lack of new root growth.
Stabilizes cell walls of plants, regulates cations and anions in plants, "trucker" nutrient
Magnesium (mobile in plant)- Causes interveinal chlorosis of older leaf tissue, chlorosis and necrosis (death) of leaf tips, leaf curling and leaf drop.
Involved in chlorophyll synthesis and a component of chlorophyll, aids in protein synthesis and enzyme activation, aids in resistance to environmental stress and regulates pH in cells.
Boron (immobile in plant)- distorted growing points, poor seed set
Involved with carb and nucleic acid metabolism, sugar transport across membranes, pollen viability and seed set, and helps with root elongation
Copper (low mobility in plant)- pig tailing of cereal leaves, stunting and yellowing of new leaves, increased ergot in cereals, malformed heads of cereals and stem melanosis.
Activates enzymes required for photosynthesis, aids in chlorophyll formation, allows self pollinating cereals to pollinate properly.
Chloride (mobile in plants)- plant wilting, chlorosis of older leaves, excessive branching, and leaf bronzing.
Involved in water regulation, cell division, photosynthesis, enzyme activityand efficient N use. Helps with crop maturity and suppresses disease.
Iron (immobile in plant)- interveinal chlorosis of newer leaves.
Required for chlorophyll formation, protein synthesis and a part of organic compounds in plant.
Manganese (immobile in plant)- causes grey speck in oats, interveinal chlorosis of younger leaves in legumes, chlorosis of younger leaves in other plants.
Enzyme maintenance, nitrate reduction, controls auxins and growth regulators, involved in synthesis of chloroplasts.
Molybdenum (low mobility)- growing point dieback, legumes may appear N deficient, whiptailing.
Helps with legume N fixation, functions in enzyme activation.
Zinc (slightly mobile)-causes small leaves, malformed leaves
Increase germination, helps with flower production, increases plant resistance to frost, increased auxin stimulation

There are a number of options out there to save your crop from nutrient deficiencies; including foliar sprays, proper soil testing and fertilization.
Sometimes there may be something known as a “latent” deficiency, meaning you cannot see a deficiency symptom yet, but a tissue test will show low levels of the nutrient within the plant. If you run into a scenario like this using a foliar fertilizer product from a company like ATP Nutrition or NutriAg with the corresponding nutrient in it can help cure the problem. Leaving a check strip even after using these products can be effective to show the difference it made in yield.

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Canola Stand Establishment

Canola is quickly becoming one of the highest acreage crops in western Canada. The possible return on investment in canola is very high, yet some growers do not take advantage of this. In my opinion, canola is a crop that a lot of farms can improve yield on, not necessarily from fertilizer or fungicide applications, but from starting it off right with a strong plant stand (fungicides, fertilizer etc are also important, but we’ll keep this on topic of plant stand establishment). No fungicide or fertilizer can make up for a subpar plant stand.

When I talk to some growers, they always seed at 5lbs/ac, no matter variety. To me this is a thing of the past. Not all varieties are the same. Do you seed a high thousand kernel weight (TKW*) durum variety the same as a low TKW durum variety? No (atleast I hope not). So why do it with canola? Large seeds typically are going to have more stored energy, meaning they are more vigorous therefore less prone to soil borne disease and seedling mortality. If you have a smaller seed variety you are typically looking at less vigour and a higher mortality rate. Knowing this why would you treat a 3.5 gram TKW the same as 6 gram TKW? It seems now more than ever before there is significant differences in seed size, especially between some of the Invigor varieties compared to a Roundup ready variety for example. The TKW weight is posted on every bag you buy, and even the same variety may differ based on seed lot so keep an eye on that.

The importance of a strong plant stand in canola really comes into play in years where you see higher levels of stress whether it be from the environment or from insects. A strong plant stand according to the Canola Council is in the 7-14 plants per square foot range, with the critical level being around 4 plants per square foot. This past week frost was an issue across southern Alberta, a potential threat to a canola plant stand. If you simply are throwing out 5lbs of seed you could be under seeding in some situations meaning that you are only achieving 6 plants per square foot, once a frost hits you may lose half your plant stand dropping you below the critical level. Once you drop to this critical level you are opening up your canola crop to scenarios of delayed, uneven maturity (canola is very “plastic” meaning if it has the room and nutrients it will branch and increase podding), increased weed competition, influx of root maggot (root maggots tend to prefer to lay eggs around thick stemmed canola plants), the potential of having your plant stand decreased even more by flea beetles (less plants means more flea beetles per plant = more damage) or a vast number of other factors. If you start out with a good stand of 10plants per square foot for example, then even if you lose 3-4 plants per square foot, your crop is still in a good position moving forward to maximize yield.

It seems like agronomists, retails, the Canola Council and others emphasize the importance of seeding speed season after season, but every year I talk to guys going sometimes 7mph on their drill while seeding canola. I understand the importance of getting all your acres seeded, but slowing down even a little bit goes a long way. If you are going to fast you open your crop up to a number of issues, mainly inconsistent seed depth. This is due to increased bouncing around and soil movement. Having some seed at an inch and a half and some sitting on top of the soil isn’t what you want to see, and isn’t going to make for a bin buster of a crop. I like to tell guys to try out some different speeds and see the difference first hand by hopping off the drill and identifying depth, or by scouting upon crop emergence to see the difference. Try some passes at 4mph, 4.5mph, 5mph, even 5.5mph just to see what works best on your soils and for your drill. I have had a guy go in the 3.2-3.6mph range because he felt that gave him the best seed placement.

If you are calculating your seeding rate based on your varieties TKW, leveling your drill to seed at the proper depth, and slowing down to ensure the seed goes into the ground at the proper depth (as well as ensuring warm soil temperatures and safe fertilizer rates) then you are well on your way to a strong “robust” plant stand as I recently heard Doug Moisey of the Canola Council say on a webinar.

 I mentioned the Canola Council a few times in this blog, I recommend signing up for their Canola Watch weekly email update which can be done here:

Great info on what’s going on and what to expect in your canola crops going forward. If you are unsure about your canola stand feel free to contact your local Canola Council agronomist, any agronomist at your local retail or a Rep from a canola variety company (Bayer for example) and they should be able to tell you how your stand is shaping up as you move into in crop herbicide application timing.

*Note: If you are wondering about the thousand kernel weight formula see my second blog post titled Big Yields Start with Seeding.