June 2010 Archives
Even while waiting for fields to dry out, farmers are reluctant to complain about too much moisture. Particularly producers in southern Alberta and Saskatchewan say too much moisture isn’t great, but there have been many years when they face the hardship of too little moisture.
At an indoor “crop walk” in Lethbridge this week about 100 producers shared some thoughts on managing crop land that has received anywhere from eight to 12 inches of precipitation so far this spring. It was supposed to be a field crop walk, organized by Alberta Agriculture and the Southern Applied Research Association to look at research plots demonstrating a number of crop production treatments. But, Ross McKenzie, agronomy research scientist with Alberta Ag in Letbridge said the plots were just too wet. He had been out with pumps to get standing water off the fields, which are near Ag Canada’s Lethbridge Research Centre, and it looked like the plants would make it, but having an on-site look would have been a gum-boot only affair.
There was a lot of discussion about crops and moisture and here are a few of the highlights.
· The southern prairies are considered dry, but 2010 was the fourth year in the last 16 to be considered as ‘wet’ years. They included 1995, 2002, 2005 and now 2010. Lethbridge had about eight inches of moisture in four major weather events this spring, further south at Cardston it was closer to 13 inches, and east towards Bow Island it was about 11 inches.
· Along with the moisture, average temperatures have been cool, which has delayed the crops anywhere from two to four weeks. Just for interest, at 20 C degree temperatures it takes barley about five days to germinate, at 10 C it takes about 14 days and at five C it takes 25 or more days to germinate.
· If plants have been under standing water for five days or more, they are probably finished.
· While yellowing crops under too much moisture is fairly normal, the yellowing could be caused by a combination of factors – cool temperatures, lack of oxygen, and with saturated soils crops don’t have the same nutrient uptake which leads to a lack of nitrogen.
· If, as moisture recedes, crops don’t look like they are bouncing back from the yellowing, top dressing with nitrogen fertilizer may be an option. Good products are 28-0-0 (urea) and 28-0-0 (UAN liquid) or even 21-0-0-24 (ammonium sulphate). Granular products are good, but the downside in a year like this, is that you still need moisture after application to carry the nitrogen into the soil, or you risk loosing 25 to 30 percent to volatilization.
· McKenzie says if producers do plan to top dress, aim to apply 30 pounds of actual nitrogen per acre, and “don’t mess around with a 10 pound rate”.
· A soil test and/or tissue test may not be accurate or timely enough in a year like this to give producers a clear message on whether top dressing is necessary. It comes down to a producer call – look at the crop, if it is a good stand, with good potential, and the potential pencils out with market prices, invest in the top dress application.
· Unless you are keen on chemfallow, if you have some unseeded fields this late in the season, it might be best to get something seeded and growing to use moisture and control weeds. A cereal can be seeded, if you can make use of green feed in the fall, or perhaps consider a legume such as sweet clover, as green manure. Sweet clover is cheaper than peas and fixes nitrogen in the soil, making it worthwhile, even under a zero-till cropping system. Alfalfa is also a good option on soils prone to salinity.
· You can also manage those unseeded acres so you can get a winter cereal such as winter wheat seeded in good time in early September.
Due to the fact that southern Alberta has water up to its proverbial boot tops, the AgTech Centre seeding demo near Lethbridge, AB scheduled for this Wednesday has been postponed until June 30.
With 10 to 15 inches of rain over the past 10 days and more rain forecast for this week, organizers had little choice but to reschedule the event, which was intended to show producers how six leading seeding systems worked.
Hopefully conditions will be dry enough for the event to be held next Wednesday June 30. Anyone planning to attend should watch this blog site or contact Mike Bevans at the AgTech Centre at 403 329 1212 – ext 225 for details as the day approaches.
What’s the best seeding system you can use? The answer to that may always remain a personal preference. But you can get an excellent idea of how six of the leading air seeders and drills compare at a southern Alberta field day coming up Wednesday, June 23.
Alberta’s Ag Tech Centre is staging a seeding technology demonstration June 23 at the AgTech Centre’s research farm south of Lethbridge on Highway 508.
The six leading systems supplied by SeedMaster, John Deere, Morris, New Holland, Seed Hawk and Bourgault have already been at the research farm, each seeding their respective areas of a 200 acre demonstration site. The six systems will be back on the farm June 23 to provide a live demonstration to producers attending the field day.
“The demonstration isn’t intended to say one system is better than another, but to give producers a first hand look at home different seeders and drills work under similar field conditions,” says Mike Bevans, an AgTech Centre technologist who is coordinating the field day.
“The first 200 acres will have been seeded to crops such as peas, wheat and canola for about one month before the June 23 field day. The first seeding wasn’t done under the best conditions because of the wet spring. But producers can see how the crops are performing and also see how the various systems work.”
At the demonstration day producers can make their own assessment of how different systems handle fertilizer and seed placement, soil disturbance, and residue management. There will also be presentations on variable rate technologies, inter-row seeding, and RTK coverage.
The AgTech Centre research farm is south of Lethbridge, east off of Highway 5 on Highway 508. Or if you are coming in on Highway 4, go west on Highway 508. There will be signs.
Coffee and lunch will be provided at the field day. And in the event of inclement weather the field day will be rescheduled to June 28. For more information contact Mike Bevans at the AgTech Centre at 403-329-1212, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.