Water key to effective harvest

LANGHAM, Sask. — Prime prairie growing conditions in most regions this year have sparked abundant growth in most crops, and lentils are no exception.

But even for experienced growers, the height and density of the crops will likely offer significant challenges when it comes time to get it into the combine.

Tom Wolf of Agrimetrix said producers should consider what it will take to get their desiccant down to the lower parts of large lentil crops.

Wolf was demonstrating spraying physics and nozzle technology to producers on behalf of Sask-atchewan Pulse Growers at the Ag In Motion farm show near Saskatoon last week. He said there is a single piece of technology on every farm that they can use to help deal with this big crop.

“Water — lots of water,” he said.

“You have to get those contact products down through that big canopy. Water is the first thing you can do get there.”

Robert Klewchuk of Syngenta agreed with Wolf about the need to ensure that the company’s product, Reglone Ion, reaches as much of the lentil plants as possible.

“I know these are some pretty formidable canopies and at this point in the season, the last thing folks might want to hear is they need to go slower because they need to apply more water, but the goal is to get a great sample into the bin,” said Klewchuk, the company’s technical leader for Western Canada.

He said there are three ways to approach the crop: swathing, desiccants and a harvest aid like glyphosate.

Swathing can stop the crop’s growth rapidly and prepare it for the combine. Research at the University of Saskatchewan suggests this method also produces high quality seed.

However, large swaths are prone to other hazards in wet or windy conditions with difficulties drying or swaths being blown apart and spread over fields.

It also adds a labour and machinery step to the harvest process and can be tricky with the low lying crop.

Wolf said a pass of glyphosate can be effective in preparing a large crop for a second application of a desiccant, as long as the lentil buyer is onside with the practice.

“You can apply glyphosate and then wait for the crop to shrink down a bit, opening up so that a pass of Reglone can reach the lower parts of the plants,” he said.

Klewchuk said Reglone Ion, a diquat product, will act only on the parts of the plant it touches because there is no systemic action.

“If your (lentil) buyer agrees, you can apply the glyphosate four to seven days ahead of the desiccant and it will improve penetration.”

He said that not all of the lentil crops are as clean of weeds as producers would like, so this has the added advantage of controlling weeds and non-glyphosate tolerant volunteers that might interfere with harvest.

The weeds likely emerged two to three weeks after the lentils and they will not yet be mature, so the desiccant won’t kill them, only damage the parts that are exposed to the spray, meaning they can still pose problems for the combines’ headers.

“True desiccants are only for crop dry down, not weed control in this situation,” he said.

The water rate for Reglone is 20 gallons per acre, and both Wolf and Klewchuk say producers need to follow that direction carefully.

The Reglone Ion product has a built-in adjuvant that helps the product adhere to leaf surfaces and disrupt the plants’ cells so water will leach out.

“You need to stage the crop properly, you want it to be turning before you spray. The products won’t help the seed mature, so you need to make the call at what point you want to stop any forward progress,” he said.

Reglone is sun activated, so Klewchuk recommends producers spray in the evening, when the crops’ leaves are cooler and have some time to retain the spray. An evening of dew can enhance movement of the product and prepare the field for a nice sunny day of effective desiccation.

“And then plan to combine in four to seven days,” he said.

Wolf said producers must consider higher water rates on many products to ensure even coverage and can choose lower drift nozzles while still getting the maximum in coverage.

“Water is the best tool you have and being on target with the products you paid for is one of the best investments on the farm, and for the industry, because it is part of doing things right.”

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