Hello ReaderWe hosted a successful and very warm field day on Tuesday with some excellent conversations. From CTF equipment set up to tram lines, inter-row seeding, side dressing nitrogen, spraying on the rows, mapping with GreenSeeker technology and the ability to collect accurate harvest data; we showed how we use technology to implement precision applications with older equipment. A big thank you to all who came, especially those who made a long trek to Morrin.
The warm spell continues with temperatures in the high 20’s and low 30’s. With very little precipitation over the last two weeks, crops are already showing signs of stress in the hilltops and sandy soils. The earlier seeded crops handled the above average precipitation in May-June a lot better than the late seeded this year. Over all wheat, canola and peas have excellent yield potential with barley a little below.
This week we’ll discuss an exciting new concept called on-row band spraying in narrow row cereals, pulses and oilseeds. Next, I’ll focus on how to triple moisture use efficiency during dry grain fill periods. We’ll look at how to assess hail damage in canola as well as canola insect thresholds. Last, with stripe rust showing up in our area I’ve provided some handy tips to help you maximize the control of this disease. We’ll finish with technical grain market news.
Have a great week.
Pictured above: A crowd gathers in our canola during our CTF field day last Tuesday.
Crop Staging(Calgary to Drumheller to Three Hills)
Seeded May 1-7 May 8-15 May 15-22
Wheat watery ripe flowering boot stage
Canola 70% bloom 50% bloom 30% bloom
Barley Milky dough watery ripe Heads emerged
Peas End of flower 70% bloom 10% bloom
Steve's tips and tricks of the week
Follow me on Twitter for in-season updates @BeyondAgronomy
- July 15th was the cut-off date for herbicide product inquires for most herbicide manufacturers. Make sure you’ve got your post-herbicide check completed and call it in quickly if there are weed escapes.
- Canola planted the first week of May is now past 50% bloom. Sclerotinia fungicide is likely not beneficial unless you predict cool, wet weather for the next several weeks with an extended bloom period.
- Wheat planted the first two weeks of May has finished flowering so it’s now out of the risk window for wheat midge.
- Continue to watch disease movement up the canopy in cereals. A late fungicide application at heading in cereals can still provide a big yield bump.
- Check fields with histories of annual sow thistle; I’ve noticed a second flush of annual sow thistle in the last ten days. If you have fields with thin canopies or late maturity, give those fields a second look to avoid surprises later.
- Check wheat fields for stripe rust, especially those which haven't had a fungicide.
- Continue scouting for wheat midge in wheat fields planted later than May 15th.
Spraying on the row generates big efficiencies
Taking precision ag another step furtherAfter five years of controlled traffic farming, we are gaining confidence in our ability to operate precisely. The next step in our precision ag journey is a very exciting one. We’ve just developed a tool to help us apply foliar nutrients, fungicides and plant growth regulators on the row at the critical growth stages, while we side dress nitrogen. The concept is called band spraying and will help increase efficiencies by 60%.
The problem with spraying anything foliar like nutrients, PGR’s and fungicides at the ideal stage of GS30 or just prior to bolting in canola is the amount of area plants take up across each acre. Depending on your opener width and row spacing, much of the products we apply hit the empty space between the rows and end up on soil and residue, not on the plant. With our 12-inch row spacing and 2-inch sideband opener, the width of our crop rows at GS30 or prior to bolting is no more than 5 inches wide. That leaves 7 inches of empty space between the rows where product is being wasted. If you do the math that works out to 60% of the product we apply never hitting the crop. That leaves room for massive efficiency gains.
We developed a spray boom the attaches to the back of the side dress toolbar as you can see in the top photo. The nozzles are set up on 12-inch row spacing like our seed drill with 45-degree Greenleaf twinjet nozzles with round caps. The round caps allow us to turn the tip with a 8mm wrench until we achieve a 5-inch wide band like you see in the middle photo. You can see the spray pattern in the middle photo simulating the 5-inch wide band applied at 10 inches above the cardboard. The bottom photo is a close up of the nozzles attached to the toolbar.
The next step will be to attach a 300-gallon nurse tank and pump to the FAST 8100 toolbar. Since we are only applying product on the rows, which works out to just 40% of an acre, we can drop our water rates and product rates by 60% and achieve the same result. Let’s do a little Steve’s quick math on the cost savings of the three products we wish to apply.
Growth Regulator: $15.00/ac x 60% savings = $9.00/ac
Foliar Macro-Micros: $12.00/ac x 60% savings = $7.20/ac
Fungicide: $18.00/ac x 60% savings = $10.80/ac
Total savings = $27.00/ac
In this example, we have the potential to save $27.00 an acre out of a possible $45.00 an acre for all three products. Not only do we save money, we’re applying these products at the ideal growth stage and not compromising weed control by trying to apply these products at a later stage with our herbicides. We’re already out side dressing nitrogen so we’re not adding another pass with our equipment. Couple all this with the efficiency of placing foliars directly on to the row, this concept is a serious winner. SL
Photo source: Steve Larocque
The key to tripling moisture use efficiency
Stored subsoil moistureAfter two weeks of warm, dry weather crops are already starting to show signs of heat stress. To me, it sends out a clear message that our current direct seeding system is in need of change. Do you think a system that relies on timely, consistent rains to produce optimal yields is risky and unsustainable? Thankfully, there is a way to boost grain yields during dry grain fill periods. The answer lies below the ground.
Research from CSIRO in NSW, Australia revealed a tripling of moisture use efficiency when plants had access to stored soil moisture at depths of 0.85M to 1.85M during dry run ups to flowering and post flowering in wheat. That’s right, wheat can access moisture at depths of up to 1.85M and generate serious moisture use efficiencies during periods of dry weather. In fact, research by French and Shultz showed store soil moisture in the full profile can generate 20 kg/mm/ha (17.8 lbs/ac) of grain where the current research shows moisture used at depths of over 1M during a dry grain filling phase can produce up to 60 kg/mm/ha (53.5 lbs/mm/ac) of grain. For the Imperial folk, that’s 22 bu/ac of wheat per inch of water, which is almost triple our current water use efficiency at 6-7 bu/ac per inch. See full research report here.
Wheat roots reach a maximum depth around the time of flowering. Until that point, surface moisture has primarily gone into producing leaves, stems, roots and biomass in general. It’s the moisture left at depth that is used to fill grain and generate higher grain weights, especially during periods of dry weather. Unfortunately, in todays heavy wheel trafficked soils with limited ability to absorb moisture, it appears that plants have very little access to stored soil moisture at depth. This is quite apparent when plants start to show signs of heat stress after just two weeks of warm weather and little rainfall.
The photo above shows me holding up a canola plant with a 15-inch taproot that I plucked from our field that has been in CTF for five years. This is a 60% cracking clay, 25% magnesium soil that has received just over 4 inches of rain this year. By rights it should be hard as a rock and near impossible to pull an intact root out of the ground. This is the same field where water infiltration rates were over 120 times faster in the CTF side versus the random traffic check.
If you want to build or maintain the yield potential you’ve created in the first 60 days after planting, it is imperative to start looking at how to finish the last 60 days with adequate stored soil moisture. As the research has pointed out, subsoil moisture plays a significant role in producing grain and does so very efficiently at depths below 1M. With crops drying up and showing signs of stress after just two weeks of moderate heat and little rain, it’s time to start re-evaluating our direct seeding system. SL
Photo source: Doug Mackay
Hail damage in canola
What have you lost?Yield loss in canola is always difficult to estimate when hail hits during flowering, especially when you're trying to come up with a fair estimate with the hail adjuster. Here are some facts to give you an idea of what to expect for crop loss after hail:
- Any leaf area destroyed will result in yield loss.
- Seed yield losses in canola are approximately 25% of leaf area lost. If leaf defoliation is 50%, then yield loss would be approximately 12.5%.
- Seed yield loss will depend on both percent leaves and branches lost. For example, if canola has 60% lost branches 7 days into flowering, seed yield loss is estimated at 18%, whereas 21 days into flowering, yield loss would be an estimated 60%.
- If hail strikes late, such as during pod filling or ripening, plant recovery is not possible. The time needed to develop new growth, flowers and mature is limited before a killing frost.
- If injury occurs at the ripening stage then it depends directly on the loss of branches, individual pods and seed knocked out of pods. Severe hail losses have occurred in canola swaths.
Canola insect thresholdsAs a personal rule of thumb, I have doubled insect thresholds as part of an IPM strategy for the last six years. So long as we are willing to accept some loss, we can help rebuild beneficial insect populations so we don’t fall into a pattern of having to spray insecticides each year. This strategy has worked wonders and rarely do we ever spray insecticides.
Beet Webworm: 2 per ft2
Bertha Armyworm: 2 per ft2
Cabbage Seedpod Weevil: 2 per sweep
Diamondback Moth: early flower: 1.5 per plant
Diamondback Moth: mid to late flowering: 2 to 3 per plant
Lygus Bugs: 2 per sweep
For more information on identification and control of canola insect pests see the Canola Council of Canada web site <here>
The quick n’ dirty on stripe rust & fungicidesThere are reports of stripe rust showing up in our area over the last 7 days. Those who sprayed a fungicide in 2011 enjoyed an 8-15 bu/ac response from adequate leaf disease protection when stripe rust showed up early. This year more producers are on the alert and asking questions so I thought I’d give you a quick update on stripe rust and fungicide applications:
- With ground application, the boom must be high enough so that the spray fans overlap on the uppermost leaves. 20 inches above the canopy is ideal.
- Fungicides will only move from the droplet on the leaf surface towards the leaf tips, they do not move from lower leaves to upper leaves or the head.
- Try to allow the majority of flag leaves to emerge. Portions of leaves, whole leaves and heads that develop after spraying will not be protected.
- Tilt (propiconazole) moves towards the leaf tips quickly so the concentration drops and stops protecting after about 3 weeks.
- Folicur (tebuconazole) and Prosaro (tebuconazole + prothioconazole) move more slowly toward the leaf tip and give 4 weeks protection.
- The strobi portion of Quilt (azoxystrobin + propiconazole) is more immobile in the plant and can give up to 5 weeks protection.
- Triazoles (Folicur, Twinline, Prosaro) are the only products that can cure an early infection of stripe rust (less than 7 days old).
- If you have stripe rust already, a triazole is preferable because of its curative properties. Again, so long as the infection is less than 7 days old.
- A stripe rust infection can restart once the fungicide applied breaks down. This is called ‘kick back’.
- Fungicides containing strobi’s (Quilt, Twinline, Headline, Stratego) can only be applied up to heads half emerged versus triazoles (Folicur, Prosaro) which can be applied from flag and up through flowering.
- Once the effectiveness of the fungicides declines after 3 to 5 weeks depending on the product, stripe rust will start developing again from the ends of old stripes and from new infections. A second application of fungicide may then be needed. SL
Photo source: Steve Larocque
The charts I use take a short and long term look at whether the market is oversold, neutral or overbought. I use charts as a way to pull the trigger, not to determine the best price.
Canola Nov 14: The long and short term trends are down.
HRS Wheat: Dec 14: The short and long term trends are down.
Corn Dec 13: The short and long term trends are down.
Soybeans: Nov 14: The short and the long term trends are down.
Canadian $: Sept 14: The short term trend is up and the long term trend is down.