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.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Number of Times to Spray Canola

It can sometimes be tricky to decide whether there is a need to go in for a application of Glyphosate or Liberty on your canola crop. There are a number of things that must be considered before pulling the trigger on another application.
The first is simply is there a need for it? Lots of growers use canola as a way to clean up their field so they automatically go in a second time no matter what. This isn’t always the approach to take. You must go out into your field and check to see if there are any weeds actively growing. If there are more than a few here or there then you can assume that going in again is a possibility, but consider the second question.
How big is the canola crop? This question must be answered for a couple of reasons. The first is that if you are spraying a chemical such as Liberty which is a contact herbicide, coverage is key to killing the target plants. If your crop canopy is large enough that getting enough contact for the herbicide to be effective is a very low chance then automatically scrap going back in. Even with glyphosate you must be able to get adequate coverage of the target weeds. The second reason you must consider the size of the crop is because canola is a very competitive crop and if it is much larger than the target weeds then there is a very good chance it will out compete it causing no yield loss to you and even the potential for the crop to choke the weeds out.
The third thing to be considered is how big are the weeds? As stated before if the crop can out compete the weed then it probably isn’t worth getting going back in. But some growers may be concerned about the potential of the weed feeding the weed seed bank in their field. For example if it is already June and you are simply concerned about a large number of 1 leaf wild buckwheat in your field and don’t want to have to worry about them going to seed then you probably aren’t in a position to worry. The likeliness of those seedling wild buckwheat making it to the point where they produce viable seed probably isn’t a big enough concern to force you back into the field for another herbicide application.
Even if you have a thin plant stand and think you can get good weed coverage, spraying a herbicide to late can have a negative impact on your crop. I have personally witnessed Liberty sprayed on a thin Invigor stand at flowering set back the canola crop significantly. With that said I have also witnessed glyphosate sprayed on RoundUp Ready canola at flowering and not noticed a significant loss in plant health. When making your first application  Invigor canola is registered to take a shot of Liberty at the cotyledon stage. This is typically ok with glyphosate resistant varieties as well, however, it is generally considered to be a little safer to wait until the 1 leaf stage in glyphosate resistant crops. I have always heard that the farther down the line a Roundup Ready crop is in terms of its breeding lineage, the better it is at standing early or heavy doses of glyphosate.
Taking into account all of these considerations should allow you to decide whether a second herbicide application is warranted.

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Seedling Frost Susceptibility

With the forecast in Southern Alberta calling for frost, I thought I would weigh in some of my experiences on frost and what to expect.
Our crops each have their own susceptibility to frost. Wheat and barley are very good at withstanding frost because in the early stages of their life their growing point is located below the ground. Peas and lentils have their growing points below ground as well making them fairly tolerant to frost as well. Crops with growing points above ground such as canola, flax and beans are much more susceptible to frost damage, but it goes much deeper than this.

 Another factor that affects a plants ability to withstand frost are the climactic conditions before and after frost. If the conditions leading up to the frost are consistently cool then the plants will be more tolerant to the below freezing temperatures. For example canola that has not been exposed to cooler temperatures and the temperature was a rapid drop then, -3 degrees celcius would cause damage to the plant. If canola has been experiencing cooler temperatures then even a drop to close to -9 degrees celcius has been shown to be tolerated. If after a frost the temperatures rapidly increase then this can also cause more significant damage to your crop as the rapid increase in temperature can cause frozen cells to burst whereas a gradual temperature increase would allow them to simply thaw out. The bigger a crop is generally the more frost tolerant it gets (1 leaf canola is more susceptible to frost than 4 leaf canola). Time below freezing is another factor that must be considered, if the time below 0 is only a couple hours you shouldn’t see the kind of damage you will see as when the temperature is that low for 8 hours for example. To take things even further, low spots in fields tend to have higher frost damage as frost "settles" in the lower areas. One more factor to consider is soil texture/type. A sandy soil in the brown soil zone with less than adequate moisture and a clay soil in the black zone with good moisture will affect how much damage there will be. The black soil with moisture will tend to hold more heat than the sandy brown soil will, potentially protecting the growing point. On top of this, if a field is covered in straw or has more "trash", then there may be more damage. Straw does not act as an insulator for small plants, rather it hinders the soils ability to absorb sunlight and warm up.

            One thing that a cereal crop may be subjected to due to cold temperatures is temperature banding. Temperature banding is due to a difference between air and soil temperature. The difference can cause cause yellow, chlorotic stripes on your cereal crops. Typically this is not yield damaging and the bands eventually go back to green in 10 days depending on further weather conditions.

Identifying frost damaged canola can be difficult, but generally speaking you must look at the growing point. If the growing point is green and healthy looking then it probably hasn’t been hurt to badly by frost. If the growing point is black, brown or purple then you may need to look into reseeding or other options. Another sign in canola can be curled or cupping margins (outside of cotyledon). Excessively dark plants or excessively yellow plants can also be a sign. Remember, you cannot see damage the following day typically. It is best to wait atleast 2-4 days before scouting to evaluate damage.

Temperatures Causing Damage or Death to Seedlings

                         Crop                                                              Temperature

Spring Wheat
-3 to -5.5
-2.5 to -4
-3 <
-3 to -4.5
Soybeans/Dry Beans/Corn
0 to -1
-4 to -5
-4 to -5
-4 to -5.5

Note: Temps can vary based on prior and after temps, stage, soil texture and time below 0

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Seed Treatment Actives

With farmers beginning to get antsy to get in the field there is always the question about what seed treatment is going to work best. This is a good question to be asking, especially with the sudden large rainfalls being seen across parts of the prairies. Cool, wet conditions are when you are going to see seed treatments getting the most bang for your buck. Atleast soils should be heating up now.

I cannot stress enough how before even thinking about seed treatment you purchase clean, certified seed where possible. Putting low quality seed in the ground cant be saved by any amount or any kind of seed treatment. Ensure you get your seed tested so you are aware of the levels of specific diseases with the seed, this can be a starting point for your fungicide choice. Remember disease can be in the soil as well, so from being out and actively digging up your  plants every year and inspecting the roots you can have an idea of what species of disease are present (distinguishing can be tough, ask an agronomist or do some research online). Even ask your local agronomist or sales reps what disease species tend to be high in your soils. I am not going to touch on insecticidal seed treatments here, but remember that there are options for insecticides with seed treatments as well.

There are a number of seed treatments out there, some with similar active ingredients. I am mainly going to focus on the actives and then give some examples of what seed treatments you can find them in.

Metalaxyl (gr. 4) is a systemic active that tends to be very effective on Pythium species (soil borne disease) of diseases. If you have heard of neighbours or local specialists talk about Pythium in your area, then products with this active may be some to consider. Secondly, metalaxyl is effective on Botrytis. Products that contain this active include Trilex AL, Apronn Maxx, Raxil MD and Dividend XL RTA.

Next up I will touch on the active known as Thiram (group M). Thiram’s claim to fame is its activity on smut type of diseases. Anyone that uses a lot of bin ran barley may want to consider a product with this active (however, there are other actives with good activity on smuts as well). Products with Thiram in them include Raxil T, Gemini, and Vitaflo.

Fusarium is a disease species that tends to cause some losses every year, especially in wet soils. For control of this disease there are a number of options in seed treatments since the triazole family of fungicides (gr 3) is so prevalent in western Canadian seed treatments. Youll notice that foliar fungicides for Fusarium Head Blight in cereals tend to be triazole fungicides as well. Here is a list of seed treatments with triazole family fungicides and good activity on fusarium; Raxil MD and Raxil T (tebuconazole), Gemini (Triticonazole), Dividend (Difenoconazole) and Rancona Apex (ipconazole). There are some other ones out there as well to I believe.

As of right now seed treatments that are exceptional on Rhizoctonia are difficult to find. There are products out there with activity on it including Trilex AL and Apronn Maxx (probably others, but not sure off the top of my head). Next year is going to be exciting for seed treatments when it comes to rhizoctonia products. Syngenta has a new product being released up here known as Sedaxane which has very good effectiveness on the disease. On top of this, Bayers new canola seed treatment called EverGol (all Invigor seed will come pre treated with it) with the active Penflufen (gr 7). Penflufen has great activity on rhizoctonia as well.

The tendency with these diseases is that they are all present in every soil, it is determining the one that tends to be more of a concern to you when choosing a seed treatment. Using products with more than one active ingredient is an effective strategy to help with this.

Distinguishing these diseases can be difficult, potential for another blog on them alone.

If any of this info seems to be wrong on anything I write please let me know, I have zero desire to be spreading incorrect information.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Weed Resistance

Weed resistance to herbicides has been around for a number of years now. With glyphosate resistance being confirmed in Alberta it seems a lot more people are starting to really take notice. I hope to see a lot more guys throwing in some extra groups with their pre burn, putting down a soil applied herbicide or alternating groups between years. We have already lost a lot of control with our group 2 products due to resistance, would hate to see group 9 be lost in Canada on more problem weeds such as wild oats or cleavers.

A lot of the time simply upping the rate of glyphosate may be the most economical and most effective way to control those target weeds in a pre burn, but we have to take a pro active approach and spend a few extra dollars an acre now rather than lose glyphosate as an effective chemical all together. In front of canola for example the only registered option to add to glyphosate is a group 14 product known as AIM (in Cleanstart). While this product is not the most potent and in a lot of cases it may be cheaper and more effective to add another 0.5L equiv. to get those tougher to kill weeds, adding Aim can help fight resistance. Especially if that field is going into Round Up Ready Canola. If a producer uses glyphosate pre burn, 2 in crops apps and then a fall applied glyphosate app, that’s 4 straight applications with ONLY glyphosate, not to mention probably using glyphosate again the following growing season as a pre burn. It is scenarios like that where you begin to increase your resistance risk significantly.

When it comes to group 1 wild oat resistance it should be approached the same, you know you are going to spray a grassy herbicide essentially every year. To help combat resistance there are a number of options from applying granular herbicides with activity on wild oats (Avadex or Edge) or alternating between group 2 and group 1 grassy herbicides. Bayer just released their gr2 grassy herbicide as stand alone product giving you another option for the 2012 growing season. Dow’s Simplicity, Arysta and Syngenta’s flucarbazone products have been around for a number of years now giving you options in your cereal fields. If you want to go even farther you can begin to recognize different chemical families within the group 1 chemical classification and begin to alternate between the ‘dim’, ‘den’ and ‘fop’ families (the actives will end in one of those three 3 letter words. Axial is in the ‘den’ classification with its active being pinoxaDEN). There has been research from AAFC’s Dr. Hugh Beckie showing that different families within group 1 have different levels of resistance to a wild oats resistance mutation.

Pulses rely heavily on group 2 herbicides, one reason there may such high levels of gr 2 resistance in some areas across the prairies. With the registration of a gr 14 in Authority in front of peas, there is another option in your weed control arsenal. The group 3 product of Edge is also something that has been used effectively for a while in front of pulses. On top of this using a product such as Reglone (gr 22) or Heat (gr 14) as a desiccant can further diversify the chemical spectrum on a pulse field in a given season.

Acknowledging the problem at hand starting now will allow us to lengthen the life time of many different chemicals, ensuring high efficacy weed control well into the future.

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Big Yields Start With Seeding

            I was talking to a farmer the other day about plant stands in wheat. He wasn’t concerned at all because he has had crops with thin plant stands yield well. I do understand where he was coming from because he has observed a wheat crops ability to make up for a thin stand by throwing out more tillers.  At the same time it concerns me because seeding rate is very important when it comes to growing good crops, for a number of reasons. The wheat’s ability to compensate shouldn’t be an indication to just throw random amounts of seed down, it should be a last resort, after doing everything possible to achieve a solid plant stand that is going to maximize yield, decrease weed competition and speed up maturity.

            Right from seeding things like disease, insects, negative environmental conditions (flooding, drought, heat etc), weeds  and more are doing everything to keep you from achieving your target yield. Putting in place the right practices can fend off these pressures and ensure a profitable yield for your farm.

            Starting with clean, certified seed is one of the best investments you can make. This may sound repetitive, but certified seed consistently out yields bin ran seed time and time again, the extra cost is worth it.

            Once you have your certified seed, be sure to have the vigour and germ tested and use those numbers to calculate your seeding rate based on the seeds thousand kernel weight (TKW). To calculate this count out 1000 seeds and weigh those seeds (in grams).

The formula looks like this:

target plant population/ft square X TKW (in grams) / seedling survival (decimal) / 10.4

= lbs/ac

EX: 32 plt/ft sq, 35grams for TKW, .90 (90%) seedling mortality in wheat looks like:

32 X 35 / .90 / 10.4 = 119.65lb/ac                120lb/ac or 2bu/ac seeding rate

I have been reading a few good tweets about this on Twitter lately from a few guys and its good to see more trying to spread the word on just how important this formula is to use. But now what does using this formula and extra work do for you?

Guys used to aim for that 24plts/ft sq, and for dryland guys sometimes that is more realistic as in some areas the lack of moisture is going to allow those thinner plant stands to do better than a higher target of 30plts/ft sq, but upping your target can speed up and even maturity. The majority of yield (95+%) comes from the main head (50%+) and the first 2 tillers (20-25% each). Knowing this we can see that anything beyond 2 tillers is a waste of energy for the plant. This means the crop is taking more time, more moisture and more nutrients to finish off that 3rd or 4th tiller delaying maturity by up to a week, and taking away potential moisture or nutrients for next year without gaining any real yield advantage. Not efficient for your farms bottom line, to say the least.

Weeds constantly are robbing your crop of yield. A thicker and more even plant stand is better able to compete against this weeds and secure the use of moisture and nutrients for your crop which is going to add to yield. A thin plant stand is susceptible to increased competitions of weeds and choking your crop out, which hurts your yield that year and adds to your fields weed seed bank for the next year.

Insects and disease are constantly thinning your stand out. Wireworms and seedling disease are on your crop like white on rice from the second you put seed in the ground. Having a solid target stand is going to combat against these issues. If you target 30plt/ft sq (which is higher than a lot of growers I have talked too) then even if 2 plants are taken out by a wireworm and 2 are taken out by disease you are still securing yourself 26 plants per foot, a number that sets you up for a good yield come August.

I know this usually isnt an issue, but there is a lot of moisture in a lot of area as I write this, meaning there is potential for some big crops. Don’t be afraid to seed heavy this year because there is moisture and potential for big crops. A thicker plant stand is also better able to combat excessive moisture, so keep that in mind.

The last step to take is “insuring” your seed by putting a registered seed treatment on before seeding. Studies show consistent yield increases and enhancements in the “pop up effect” from these treatments and battle negative seedling diseases. These can be a fungicide, insecticide or a combination of the two. There are other options out there such as nutrient seed dressings and biological organisms to enhance your seeds ability to get out of the ground. The proper seed placed fertility program, seed depth and seeding speed can also help you hit that proper target plant stand, but those are for another time.