Soaring lentils have fields awash in weed wicks and wipes

Saskatchewan growers are snapping up wick and wipes applicators to tackle resistant weeds and volunteer canola

More acres have likely been covered with wick and wiper applicators this year in Saskatchewan than in any previous year.

“This is the first year that I’ve seen huge acreages being done,” said Ralph Wasylyniuk of Farmagro Sales Ltd, which is the western Canadian distributor of Vogels Wick Weeders. “This year it absolutely exploded. We’re scrambling to get more units in.”

A doubling of lentil acres in the province have prompted many growers to look at different height applicators to combat problems in the short crop.

Wasylyniuk said producers are targeting weeds such as kochia, Canada thistle, narrow leaf Hawk’s-beard, stinkweed, volunteer cereals, and Group 2 resistant wild mustard.

“A lot of Group 2 resistant weeds have showed up this year,” Wasylyniuk said.

“Odyssey and Solo didn’t work very well for a lot of guys. So yeah, it’s been very, very busy. We’re into our third and fourth semi loads of units.”

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Volunteer canola has taken over many lentil fields in southern Sask-atchewan, and differential height applicators have also been used to effectively clean up these crops.

“I’ve got a number of guys that have Clearfield canola that’s coming up on their lentils, so they have been using glyphosate on that Clearfield canola, and if it’s Roundup Ready canola, they will add that 2-4D to it.”

Vogels Wick Weeders are Canadian produced and come in many configurations:

  • hand models
  • for the front of all-terrain vehicles or a tractor’s front-end loader
  • pull-behind trailing models

The trailing model is the most popular for broad acre growers. It can be purchased in widths as small 10 feet and up to 40 feet. Wasylyniuk said special order units as wide as 120 feet can also be assembled.

The Wick Weeders have moped tires, which Wasylyniuk said are durable. As well, an extra set of wheels can be installed on the outside of the wick to help prevent it from dipping down into the crop.

Wheel spacing can be adjusted to accommodate various row spacings.

Glyphosate is most commonly used with these tools, at two parts water to one part chemical. As well, 2-4D is commonly used when glyphosate resistance is present.

“We also have a tank system on it to provide extra head pressure, so that if you’re going through a heavy patch of weeds they can turn that tank on and be able to get extra flow out to the wicks,” he said.

It is difficult to calculate how many acres a grower can cover after loading the wick with chemical.

“If you tell me how many weeds you have out in your field, then I might be able to tell you how much you’ll use in terms of product,” Wasylyniuk said.

“It uses very little product in relation to the size of the fields. When the machine is filled with the tank we’ve gone just about all day sometimes. But then on other occasions we can put on a litre or litre and a half an acre of solution.”

The Wick Weeders are not complicated technology but they can be tricky to properly set up to deliver the right amount of chemical to kill weeds yet leave the crop alone.

“If they are set up properly there should be an occasional drip across the width of the machine,” Wasylyniuk said.

They can be pulled by almost anything, such as high clearance sprayers, pickup trucks, tractors, quads, and he even has a customer that is planning on pulling one with a motorcycle.

“He’s actually planning on pulling this on an irrigated field and planning on going after that wild oats that is going to be up above the wheat,” Wasylyniuk said.

Weeds have to be at least 10 to 15 centimetres above the crop canopy to be effectively targeted with a weed wick, and growers should travel at approximately four to six m.p.h.

Wasylyniuk said a wick weeder is not a tool that producers will necessarily need to use every year, but that it does provide another weed control option.

Some growers as a matter of course will hit their headlands with the wick and take out weed patches while they rolling on a field.

“You don’t have to hit the whole field, and if there is a heavy patch you can turn around and give it a wipe twice.”

The tools are also used to maintain fence lines and clean up pastures and alfalfa fields

A 40-foot Vogels Wick Weeders costs $4,600 to $4,800, depending on how it’s equipped.

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