Weather writes off irrigated crop trials 


Heavy rain, disease, wind and hail wreak havoc

MOOSE JAW, Sask. — Irrigation crop trials, like so many others in 2012, suffered from too much rain, wind and hail, causing less than desirable results and in some cases no results at all.


Garry Hnatowich, project lead for variety trials at the Canada-Sask-atchewan Irrigation Diversification Centre in Outlook, said abnormal weather throughout the growing season affected the trials.


“Dryland farming became irrigation this year,” he told the Irrigation Crop Diversification Corp. annual meeting Dec. 5.


The centre received nearly 348 millimetres of rain this year, compared to the 1931-2009 average of 189 mm.


Precipitation in May alone was 316 percent of the long-term average.


It was also much cooler than usual, particularly in May. Growing degree days throughout the four-month season were all below average.


Hnatowich said cereals coped well with the weather, but pulses and oilseeds did not.


“We started out optimistically,” he said. “It got progressively bad, it stayed bad and then it got worse.”


Both flax trials were lost early on after wind filled in seed furrows and emerging seedlings were sandblasted.


Field pea emergence was sporadic, followed by significant seed rot and seedling damping off.


Dry beans and soybeans emerged better but were sluggish because of the cool conditions.


Canola emerged fairly well only to fall to later weather issues.


A significant hailstorm on June 22 shredded pulses and flowers, and Hnatowich had to tell his grower-partners that the canola had suffered.


“The people in charge made the decision to cancel the trial,” he said. “They felt the data would not be useable.”


That also meant they only paid 25 percent of the contract value.


Hnatowich said he didn’t give up on the trial because he thought the damage was consistent and the plots would recover enough to get data for the variety guide.


But then another hailstorm on Aug. 4 caused even more damage.


And the final blow to canola was a wind storm six days after it was swathed. Fifty-one canola lines were lost in two days.


“This was heartbreaking. There was nothing salvageable.”


He said there simply isn’t enough weight in small plots to hold the swaths in place during such high winds. The swaths blew into a shelterbelt and couldn’t be recovered.


Despite these problems, he said enough data was available to recommend varieties for next year.


For hard red spring irrigated wheat, Hnatowich said he likes CDC Kernen for its 113 percent yield of the check, AC Barrie, without losing much protein. It came in at 15.7 percent compared to Barrie’s 15.9 percent.


He said the barley recommendations will look considerably different than other years because they have been categorized as malt, and feed and food. 


The malt varieties have also been subdivided into recommended, under test and other.


The full guide will be available at Crop Week in Saskatoon in early January.

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