Harvest progress is just about in full swing across my territory. Canola yields in the east have been exceptional with yields in the mid 50’s. Barley yields have been all over the map from 85 to 110 bu/ac but its early days yet. The majority of malt barley has been accepted with low proteins and nice plump kernels. Wheat yields have been hovering in the mid 60’s to 70’s which is excellent but proteins are down due to good soil moisture during grain fill. It’s shaping up to be a banner year for many if drainage wasn’t an issue.
Fertilizer dealers are starting to make phone calls to book fertilizer this fall. Prices per tonne are still hovering around $600 for urea, $790 for phosphate, $650 for potash and $430 for sulphur. Canola seed prices have come out as well with some varieties like InVigor and Dekalb fetching $9.50 to $12 a pound! After running the fertilizer numbers for next year, it looks like I’ll be in the $75 an acre range. There will be some sticker shock this fall when you consider we bought urea for almost half the price in 2010.
This week we’ll take a second look at fall applied NH3 and the use of vacuum planters to reduce seed costs and improve canola emergence. We’ll look at some post-harvest glyphosate options to control nasty perennial weeds and some tips for applying granular herbicides this fall. We’ll finish with fundamental and technical grain market news.
Photo: The view from the farm manager’s office, the grain cart. (Daryl Chubb, Double M Farms, Acme, AB)
Take a second look at fall applied NH3
I know most producers have moved away from a two pass seeding system but I would suggest that fall NH3 is making a comeback. With the pressure to seed quickly, fertilizer rates pushing over 300 lbs/ac and heavy residue loads from previous years, fall NH3 provides a nice option to address each of these issues. I’ve been recommending it to a few growers prior to seeding canola.
The economics work well even when you consider the cost of a second pass. Let’s run the numbers:
NH3: $900/tonne or $0.50/lb
46-0-0: $630/tonne or $0.62/lb
425 HP 4WD + 50ft applicator: $9.00/ac (fuel, labour, machinery)
If we were to apply 90 lbs of nitrogen using 46-0-0 it would cost $55.80 acre. The same 90 lbs of nitrogen using NH3 would cost you $45.00 an acre this fall. That’s a difference of $10.80 an acre which pays for the additional cost of the second pass.
I’ve seen some great results with fall NH3 before canola in heavy clay soils that are typically cold and wet in the spring. Even if you have NH3 set up on your air drill for a one pass system, a NH3 application may be worth looking at this fall. Doubling your seeded acres per fill in canola next spring is hard to ignore, never mind a chance to warm up the soil. Maybe it’s food for thought. SL
Canola seed price increases make planters a better option
I just saw the latest canola price list for 2012 that has varieties ranging from $9.50/lb up to $12.00/lb. I believe the $50.00 to $60.00/ac in seed costs will continue to climb with yield and margins the way they are. So where does that leave us? For me, it makes me look harder at a system that includes vacuum planters so we can improve emergence and reduce our seeding rates by 60%. A separate precision canola planter pays off quickly with canola seed prices north of $10.00/lb.
I was given a quote for a 40-foot Monosem planter on 22-inch spacing. The cost was $108,000 for this set up. Case IH and John Deere make planters as well but after watching Kip Cullers from Missouri pull of 160 bu/ac soybeans with his Monosem, he had me at hello. The best part is that you only need a small tractor to pull it so something like a 160 HP front wheel assist would give you all the horsepower you’d need if you farm steep slopes.
The Monosem planter or vacuum planters in general allow you to cut back canola seeding rates to 2 lb/ac or below. At $12.00/lb, that's a savings of $36.00/ac over the standard seeding rate! For those of you seeding at 3.5 lbs/ac with a precision drill, you'd still be $18.00/ac ahead using a planter. The downside is that it requires a second pass but the upside is 700/ac per fill, deadly accurate and a reduction in seed cost. Let’s run the numbers to compare a one pass conventional system to a two pass vacuum planter system.
Conventional one pass system
425 hp 4WD: $340,000
55 ft drill: $175,000
One pass application: $13.10/ac
Seed cost: $60.00/ac
Two-pass system with Monosem planter
160 hp FWA: $135,000
Monosem 40 ft, 20" spacing: $108,000
Two pass application: $9.00/ac (fall fert) + $16.75/ac = $25.75/ac
Seed cost: $24.00/ac
In this example, the two pass system using the Monosem drill will cost $23.35/ac less than the conventional one pass system. That doesn't account for yield increases or maturity benefits from the precision planter. For those of you planting 2,500 acres or more, you're looking at a two year return on investment for the Monosem drill. Those planting 1,500 acres of canola each year would have the investment paid off within three years. If you work backwards, most producers have 25 to 30% of their rotation in canola each year. If you divide 1,600 to 2,500 acres of canola by 30%, the economics work well on the 5,000 acre to 8,000 acre farms. This concept has definitely captured my attention and if seed costs continue to rise, we’re going to see more producers looking into planters to offset the cost and do a better job at seeding canola. SL
Post-harvest spraying can eliminate pre-seed burn-off
Over the last few years, I've had a few producers apply glyphosate and Pre-Pass at the end of September and early October, even after a few killing frosts. The results have been excellent; great control of fall germinating weeds like narrow-leaf hawk's beard, dandelion, flixweed, and foxtail barley, and the elimination of a pre-seed application in the spring. With the spring work load reduced, seeding can commence early without having to wait for the right conditions to spray or the right number of days to seed after spraying.
With excellent weed regrowth this fall and warm growing conditions, a successful post-harvest spray season is now upon us. Here are a few tips for fall weed control:
- Heavy harrow soon after combining to allow weeds more time to recover.
- If a frost up to -8°C occurs, wait at least two days for the plants to recuperate and then check for frost damage. Make sure to check all areas of the field as low-lying areas tend to receive more frost than higher ground.
- Ensure weeds are actively growing. At least 60% of the plant must be green for herbicides to work effectively.
- The best time to control winter annuals is in the fall when the plants are still small and have not had enough time to store sugar for spring regrowth.
- For good control, you need to have several warm days (15°C or above) after application for the herbicide to translocate to the root.
- You can also use residual products like Pre-Pass and Express Pro to kill weeds as they germinate or use 2,4-D, MCPA, Express, dicamba or glyphosate.
Common weeds in order of frost tolerance (highest to lowest)
- Winter annuals
- Perennial Sow Thistle
- Canada Thistle
- Apply only if thistles are actively growing with at least 3 to 4 new leaves, and only if 2 to 3 weeks of good growing conditions after spraying are normally expected. These characteristics ensure enough leaf area to accumulate the herbicide and ensure translocation of the herbicide to the rhizome buds in sufficient concentration to kill them.
- Frosts of -5°C or colder greatly reduce herbicide effectiveness for thistle control.
- Apply 1 litre per acre to actively growing thistles
- Post-harvest glyphosate gives the best root-kill of established foxtail barley if soil moisture conditions allow the plants to remain actively growing.
- Optimum uptake and movements of glyphosate into foxtail barley roots occur at temperatures above 10°C.
- Apply 1 to 2 litres per acre. Use the higher rate with heavier infestations and mature plants.
- At least 75% of the plant must be green and actively growing for effective spraying.
- A light frost (-2°C to -3°C) will not affect quack grass control using glyphosate, providing temperatures rise to the mid-teens during the day. Some studies have found improved control after a light frost.
- A heavy frost (-5°C or colder) requires at least three days delay prior to spraying to determine if the quack grass has recovered.
- Apply 1 litre per acre.
- Fall is the best time of year to control dandelion.
- Glyphosate, Express SG and PrePass have all been evaluated in fall versus spring applications and each gave better control when applied in the fall.
- No additional control was realized by increasing glyphosate rates from 1 litre per acre (360 g per L formulation) to 1.5 litres per acre when applications were made in the fall, but the 1.5 litres per acre rate was required in the spring to match the level of control of the fall glyphosate treatments.
Source: Clark Brenzil, Provincial Weed Control Specialist, Manitoba
Tips for applying granular herbicides this fall
Over the last three years, I've been trialing the use of fall and spring applied Avadex to help control wild oats in troublesome direct seeded fields. I think it's funny when I say trialing because Avadex has been around for over three decades! What's different now is the way we incorporate it. Today, all we need is a Valmar and a heavy harrow and we're in business. After the impressive results I've seen from both spring and fall applied Avadex or fall applied Fortress, I think we've finally brought back a desperately needed Group 8 and Group 3 into the herbicide rotation.
With that, I've included some tips on fall applications of granular herbicides below:
- The optimal timing to apply Edge, Fortress or Avadex is just before freeze up when the soil temperature has dropped below 5° C.
- Applying these products too early on soil with temperatures greater than 5 degrees Celsius will activate the granules. You want the granules to activate in the spring and not now if you want control next year!
- Fall applications only require a "tickle"- a gentle heavy harrowing to make sure the granules are dislodged from the straw and chaff and placed on the soil.
- Granular herbicides are soil-active, so we must provide every opportunity to place them on the soil. If excessive crop residue exists at application, a heavy harrowing should be done to ensure soil contact.
- Aggressive heavy harrowing can leave small trenches where the granules concentrate and leave you with patchy control the following year. Set the harrows accordingly.
The cost is of applying granular Avadex is roughly $15 an acre on soils with 4% or greater OM. For those of you without a Valmar attached to your heavy harrows, you can rent a complete unit for roughly $2.25/ac or $375 per day. The SRP on Avadex is $1.30/lb and $1.57/lb for Fortress. I highly suggest you take the time to apply Avadex or Fortress in troublesome wild oat areas or fields. Believe me. You'll be happy you did. SL
Photo source: farmauctionguide.com