Topics for the Week

Help seedlings outgrow flea beetles

Canola seeded into cool, over-wet/over-dry soil can be slow to emerge and slow to grow, putting seedlings at higher risk of flea beetle damage. Prep seedbeds as well as possible to help the crop outgrow its susceptible stage rapidly. *SCOUT* (daily at early growth stages, ideally). Though seed treatments usually provide effective protection past the riskiest cotyledon stage and a bit longer, plan now in case fields suffering heavy flea beetle pressure require an additional foliar insecticide. (Canola seed treatments) (Plant establishment – seed treatments) (How to assess leaf area loss from flea beetles)

Seeding well = a smart start 

Though this year is proving a very challenging, late-starting year in many regions, rushing at seeding will compromise seed survival and eventual yield. Invest the time to seed well to maximize emergence and speed early growth. Triple check equipment, assess TKW and optimal seeding rate on each seed lot, ensure seed-placed fertilizer is safely placed, and confirm seeding depth in every field. If tilling to help dry over-wet fields, watch for compaction and sidewall smearing. Most importantly, make time to stay safe – at seeding and all year. (Top 10 things to note at seeding) (Delayed seeding and wet soils) (How to increase canola seed survival rates)

Weeds are coming on strong 

To get ahead of competition while weeds are small and easier to control, apply a pre-seed burnoff ASAP where possible. Tank mix two or more compatible crop protection products, especially to control canola’s ‘big three’ weeds: cleavers, kochia and volunteer canola. Tank mixing is especially important given glyphosate-resistant kochia’s spread across the prairies. A pre-seed herbicide together with one in-crop application before four-leaf is often enough to adequately (and most economically) control weeds. If challenging field conditions and late seeding mean pre-seeding herbicide isn’t possible, ensure post-seeding application is done as early as possible. For more on herbicide timing and control options, read on. (Spraying tips for tough conditions)

Write it down: record keeping matters

Record keeping can make or break one’s growing-season success, especially in a year like this when more growers will make last-minute rotation or input changes. While waiting to seed, review past years’ records to optimize a seeding plan, mitigate herbicide carry-over risk, ensure adequate rotation intervals, recall critical details from previous seasons, and lay out this year’s record-keeping system. Once planting, keep careful track of seed lot identification numbers and seeding rates, seed treatments, pre- and post-seeding herbicide and crop input applications, field conditions, etc. Ideally, plant (and record!) check strips for varying treatments. (10 details to record at seeding time)

Over-wet / over-dry – it’s a tough year for many

Southern Manitoba and the Peace region are facing impossibly wet conditions with no improvement in sight. Stay positive: when precipitation finally ends, the ground may be ready to seed surprisingly quickly. It is too early to consider broadcast seeding. At the other end of the spectrum, drought conditions persist in much of southern Alberta and through north-central Saskatchewan.
Farming can be very stressful. Help is available if the pressure feels like too much. If you or someone you know needs support, reach out. (Do More Agricultural Foundation) (Manitoba Farm Wellness Program – counselling)