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Fall Herbicide Application

From the cab of your combine, it is the perfect time to start thinking about next year’s crop. Fall herbicide applications can be a reliable way to help keep fields clean of those winter annual and perennial weeds that will be tough to control the following spring. 

When determining to do a fall herbicide application, consider the history of the field and plan for the following growing season. 

Scouting

When you’re out harvesting this fall, take a good look at the field for small, germinated weeds. Asses the species, health, and size of the weeds present, making sure they are actively growing and have enough leaf surface to actively take the product in. Questions you may want to consider: What were some of the troublesome weeds throughout the season? Are any of those weed species perennial or winter annuals? 

Winter Annuals

Fall germinating winter annuals are controlled effectively in the fall because the plants are small and susceptible to the herbicide. These weeds will continue to grow through the fall frosts and will resume growth in the early spring. Some examples of tough to control winter annuals include Narrow Leafed Hawksbeard, Prickly Lettuce, and Night Flowering Catchfly. 

 Perennials

In the fall, perennials are sending reserves down to the roots to overwinter and will carry the herbicide to the roots. For optimal control, it is important to ensure there is enough regrowth after being cut at harvest for the herbicide to hit its target. Some common examples of tough to control perennial weeds are Dandelions, Canada Thistle, Horsetail (commonly found around sloughs), and Foxtail Barley. 

Spray Conditions

Optimal weather conditions are preferred for an effective fall herbicide application. Ideally warm fall days, temperatures greater than +10 are when the plants are actively growing. Frost and continuous low temperatures will send the weeds into shut down. Making it best to wait a few days after cold temperatures, assess the health of the weeds, and apply an application only after the weeds start growing again. 

Tank Mixing

Tank mixing is another essential consideration when it comes to fall burn-off. Tank mixing allows for herbicide rotation, especially in instances where there is a presence of resistant weed biotypes that limit herbicide group options in-crop. Although a heavy rate of glyphosate may be a straightforward and cost-effective solution, it is important to incorporate a tank mix partner to get multiple modes of action, ensure effective control and mitigate the chance of resistance. Keep in mind any re-cropping restrictions. Heat LQ, Express and 2,4-D are common tank-mix partners to consider. 

A fall weed control application can reduce the spring workload, get your crop off to a weed-free start, and allow you to get into the field earlier. Contact your local Synergy AG agronomist if you need assistance identifying weed species or creating an optimal fall burn-off plan. 

Things To Consider About Sclerotinia Application

As we come to the start of July and look out into our canola fields, we are seeing beautiful cabbaging canola that is starting to bolt. One of the big questions we always have from our growers is whether or not it is worth spraying canola for sclerotinia. As growers are facing tight margins and pricey costs of application, the question always is, “Will we see a ROI from a sclerotinia application?”

Forecasting Tools Available to Growers

Growers have some great tools that can help them forecast the development of sclerotinia in their area. Some of these tools include: Risk assessment maps put out for the prairie provinces that are available on the Canola Council Website, a checklist based on environmental conditions, and our personal favourite, petal testing. There is no method that is 100% accurate, but these different tools can help us make an educated decision. 

Conditions Favorable for Sclerotinia 

For sclerotia germination, spore production and spore growth, we need to have favourable environmental factors such as rainfall and soil moisture.  Summers with wet, damp and humid conditions are the perfect weather for us to see high amounts of sclerotinia in the canola. Another condition that is favorable for sclerotinia is a dense crop canopy. When we have these dense heavy canopies, we see a lack of sunlight able to penetrate through and evaporate the moisture under the canopy. 

Ideal Bloom Staging

When we are looking at doing a fungicide application for sclerotinia, timing is critical. For application timing, we are looking at between 20%-50% flower, and prior to significant petal drop. Fungicide application needs to begin when it is at 20% flower – meaning, we see 15 open f lowers on the main stem. When the number of open flowers on the main stem exceed 20, we are at 50% flower, and this is a sign that our application window is closing for fungicide.  Canola fields will be at it most yellow during this stage.

For more question on Sclerotinia and fungicide options, please contact your local Synergy AG agronomist. 

More Than A Crystal Ball!

How digital agriculture can improve efficiency on your farm

My heart sank when I scrolled through some Facebook photos and discovered a classmate had aged rather too quickly. But on reading his update, I was relieved to notice that the photo was of his “future self”. My friend had used the photo editing app that predicts what a person might look like when they are old. The idea of seeing my wrinkled face at 92 doesn’t particularly excite me (hopefully before then somebody would have invented a better anti-aging cream)! However, I am excited about using digital technology to predict and manage important aspects of a cropping season. Now, that would be useful!

What is digital agriculture?

In general, digital agriculture includes tools that are used to collect, store, analyze, and share data and information in agriculture.  These technologies aim to provide information to make better decisions and improve productivity. The rise of digital platforms in agriculture has been called the “Digital Revolution”, the latest of the major revolutions in agriculture.

How digital agriculture can enhance efficiency on your farm

There are several examples of how digital agriculture can improve farm efficiency and resource management. Digital agriculture includes precision agriculture techniques that use sensors, GPS guidance, satellite imagery, and soil sampling to identify unique characteristics of different areas of a farmer’s field so that the farmer can allocate the right amount of resources to the right place at the right time. This is particularly useful under the present situation of high input costs. Digital agriculture also includes tools that use mathematical models developed from the relationships between complex variables, to guide farming decisions. For example, crop yield potential throughout a growing season can be predicted from variables such as available soil moisture, accumulative rainfall, and expected precipitation, giving farmers the information they need to decide whether adding more input during a growing season is justified. Furthermore, software that help record, store and manage farm and field activities are also part of digital agriculture, and can greatly enhance the efficiency of farm and field operations.

In conclusion…

There seems to be an app for everything these days, and the choices can be dizzying. Our world is suddenly looking like the Planet of the Apps! But changes in weather patterns, new and emerging pest and diseases, as well as market uncertainties mean that we can no longer rely on past and personal experiences alone. To remain profitable, farm management decisions must be data-driven using the right technologies. At SynergyAG, we evaluate various digital agriculture platforms and work with those that can bring value to our customers. Our approach is to combine eyes in the sky with boots on the ground. Please, talk with your SynergyAG rep to understand how our digital/precision agriculture platforms can help improve efficiency on your farm.

– Ikenna Mbakwe, PhD, PAg

  Head of Research

  SynergyAG

Dealing with Possible Herbicide Carryover in 2022

None of us need reminding how difficult 2021 was for farming in Western Canada because of the severe drought experienced in most places, along with the disruptions of a global pandemic. If it were possible, I would have asked my high school bully if that offer to slap me into next year was still on the table! But at last, here we are in 2022, looking forward to a much better year. However, like a boxer ready to step back into the ring, we may still be carrying a few scars from our last fight. One of those scars could be herbicide carryover.

What is herbicide carryover?

Herbicide carryover happens when a soil residual herbicide does not break down completely over the summer and leaves residues that may harm the next crop. Herbicides break down more quickly in warm, moist soils due to increased microbial and chemical degradation under those conditions. Therefore, the extremely dry conditions experienced in many areas during last year’s growing season have increased the potential for crop damage from herbicide carryover in 2022. In general, areas that received less than 125 millimeters (about 5 inches) of accumulated rainfall between June 1 and August 30 may be at risk, especially if the soils are sandy, have low organic matter, and soil pH is lower than 6.5 or higher than 7.5.

How to detect herbicide carryover before the start of the cropping season

A simple way to assess suspected herbicide carryover is to do a bioassay. This involves growing the intended crop or a sensitive crop in pots containing soil from a treated field and a ‘’check” soil from an untreated area close to the field. Seeds should be planted not later than a day or two after the soils are collected to minimize herbicide degradation of the soil samples under favourable conditions, which will skew the results. Place the pots in direct sunlight or under a suitable light source, at about room temperature. Water as needed but avoid waterlogging. Observe the plants 2 – 3 weeks after emergence and note any visual differences in plant height, root density, and overall plant health.  Plants experiencing herbicide injury will show symptoms of poor health when compared to the check.

How to manage herbicide carryover

Accurate record-keeping that indicates the type of herbicides and amount of rainfall a field received is important to assess potential herbicide carryover risks. Pay attention to rotational restrictions by the herbicide manufacturer and consult with the manufacturer for additional guidance in abnormal situations such as after the drought of 2021. If herbicide carryover is confirmed, the safe thing to do would be to seed the field to a crop with tolerance to the herbicide group that has been carried over, taking other essential farm management plans into consideration. Your SynergyAG team will be happy to provide the necessary agronomic guidance for a successful 2022 season.

– Ikenna Mbakwe, PhD, PAg

  Head of Research

  SynergyAG

Trick or Treat Your Seed

October is here, and as we’re out buying treats for the trick or treaters, it’s also time we start thinking about treats for our seeds. Seed treatment, that is. Fall to Winter is the optimal time to treat seed, as crops are being sold and the bins are emptying out, and it saves us time in the race that is Spring. At SynergyAG, we are home to world-class seed treatment facilities, where we can treat anything from cabbage to corn and everything in between with a variety of different seed treatments.

So Why Treat Your Seed?

Your seed is at 100% yield potential up until it is put into the ground. Once seeded, it is exposed to many stressors that reduce seed survivability, seedling vigor, and plant health. These stressors are environmental, insects, pathogens, and overall lack of starter nutrients. It is the role of seed treatment to protect the seed from these stressors. 

Seed treatments that are available here at SynergyAG come in three main forms: Protectants (Insecticides and fungicides), Biologicals, and Nutrients. 

Protectants

Seed is treated with Insecticides – neonic, and non-neonicotinoids – to protect the seed and seedlings from insects such as wireworms, cutworms, and flea beetles. Typically, these products are systemic. This means that the insect must consume a small portion of the seed/plant for the insecticide to enter their body, move through the Central Nervous System, and kill them: preventing further damage.

The other main form of protectants is Fungicides. These are used to protect the seed and future plant from soil-borne and seed-borne pathogens. These pathogens can impact the germination or infect the seed post-germination. 

Biologicals

Biologicals are applied to the seed to help the plants grow in drought, cold, heat, and other non-ideal conditions, and helps the plants grow even better in ideal situations. These biologicals deliver microorganisms and other natural compounds that help ward off soil-borne pathogens and help with nutrient uptake. 

Nutrients

Finally, nutrients that are vital for seed germination and seedling survivability are applied to the seed for optimal uptake. Seed-applied nutrients help to feed the seedling until they can access and utilize nutrients in and outside of its row. Common seed-applied nutrients are copper, molybdenum, zinc, and calcium. Each nutrient plays its own role in seedling development and germination.

Germination is essential to plant stand, plant health, and overall crop yield. Treating your seed allows for the plant to get off to a vigorous start by minimizing exposure to stressors.

At SynergyAG, we are here to provide an even, and hassle-free seed treatment that is tailored to your needs.  Contact your SynergyAG representative to discuss what seed treatment options are best for you. Don’t get tricked by what the soil throws at your crop. Treat your seed to help maximize your yield potential!

Plant Re-Growth?

Is your field still looking green after the combine has rolled through?

With the lack of moisture experienced this past year, some combines have fired up earlier then usual, as the lifecycle of plants may have been cut short. A combination of an earlier harvest with late season rains has also led to more plants, both crop and weeds regrowing after they have been swathed and combined.

Have you ever thought about how many nutrients are used when it comes to plant regrowth?

Any actively growing plants in a field are busy taking up soil water and nutrients as they build leaf and root tissue. Although small, young juvenile plants have a high concentration of certain nutrients like Nitrogen and Potassium and can assimilate a large amount in a short period of time. In fact, many crops like Canola and Wheat take up nearly 90% of their total Nitrogen within the first 6-8 weeks of growth.

While it may be tempting to assume that these nutrients will be available for next years crops there are many factors that affect mineralization rates including plant material growth stage, Carbon to Nitrogen ratio, incorporation, temperature, moisture, and many more. The other consideration is the uniformity of regrowth, is it on every acre or patchy? How much N should I apply across the field?

As with many decisions a grower must make, the 2022 fertility plan is full of uncertainty and tough decisions. The widespread reduction in yields caused by prolonged drought, hail, and unrelenting heat this year leave enough question marks as to what to apply in the spring, with the rapid and widespread regrowth only adding to this complication. While there is no crystal ball to know what to apply, soil testing coupled with the experience and knowledge of your Synergy AG team can help you with your decisions for the upcoming year. For further information please contact the Synergy AG rep in your area!

Flea Beetles: A Common Enemy of Canola

If you are a grower of canola, you’ve most likely come across a flea beetle. Flea beetles are one of the most common pests of canola. In order to grow a successful crop, it is important to have a basic understanding of flea beetles and the management strategies needed to control these pests.

Flea Beetle Damage

Flea beetle damage from feeding may affect crop development depending on feeding intensity, crop stage, and part of the plant that has been damaged. Adult flea beetles may feed on the cotyledons, leaves, stems, and seed pods of canola, mustard and rapeseed. During the larval stages, flea beetles may feed on roots. Heavy populations of flea beetles have potential to cause extensive damage and delay maturity, causing a reduction in yield and seed quality. Yield losses around ten percent are common in areas with infestations.

Economic Threshold

The economic threshold in canola is when average leaf damage reaches 25%, if flea beetles are still present and feeding. At this point, a foliar applied insecticide is recommended. If beetles are present, it’s important to scout your newly emerging canola plants for damage daily as feeding can advance from 25% to 50% damage in less than a single day, especially in warm and calm weather conditions.

Source: Canola Council of Canada

Identification & Life Cycle

There are three known species that attack canola in Western Canada. These species include crucifer, striped, and hop flea beetles. Of these, the crucifer flea beetle is the most destructive and widespread. Adult flea beetles appear twice in one growing season.

Flea beetles have a single generation per year, overwintering as adults within debris. These overwintering adults begin feeding on canola seedlings when they emerge in spring. Offspring appear in the fall and feed on leaves, stems and seed pods.


Scouting

Scouting in early spring (May to June) is imperative to catching a flea beetle infestation as overwintering adults emerge to feed. Monitor entire fields, more frequently in warm/dry conditions. Examine cotyledons and leaves of 10 plants in five different locations within a field. Inspect for small, round holes (shot holes) in cotyledons and seedling leaves.


Preventative Measures

A few simple, good management practices can go a long way in the spring to help prevent, or at the very least reduce flea beetle damage to the crop. A good crop rotation helps promote a good, healthy crop establishment. With a good stand established there will be more plants to spread the impact of flea beetle feeding. Seeding depth is another fairly simple way to give your canola crop the best chance for success. Take the time and set your drill for optimal depth. Fast, even emergence gives the tiny canola plants the best chance to compensate for flea beetle feeding and grow through the most susceptible early cotyledon stages. Finally, canola seed treatments have been a proven method to help reduce flea beetle damage. Standard treatments such as Prosper Evergol and Helix Vibrance will provide some protection against flea beetles. For extended protection there are other treatment options including Fortenza Advanced and the very well-known Lumiderm.

It’s important to monitor your plants in the early spring as flea beetles can do a lot of damage to the emerging crop. Feeding can happen on cotyledons, leaves, stems, and seed pods of canola. Preventive measures can be taken to reduce flea beetle damage including crop rotation, seeding depth, and the careful consideration of canola seed treatments. For further information please contact the SynergyAG rep in your area!

Biologicals, Humics … What?

Biologicals, Humics … What?

There are a lot of buzz words in modern agriculture: soil health, sustainability, regenerative agriculture, precision farming and the list goes on. With the rise in commodity prices this year,  farmers are trying to maximize the genetic potential of their crops. This has opened the door to many ‘magic bullet’ products in the market, leaving producers questioning the science and capability behind them. The truth is, though, there is sound science behind a lot of these products, we do not treat them like a one size fits all type of product. Depending on your agronomic practices and budget, we can find a product that fits your needs.

Biologicals are gaining significant popularity for the majority of Canadian farmers. Biologicals are beneficial to crop protection tools found mainly from naturally occurring living organisms. They fall into two main categories: microbial and biochemicals. Microbials are relatively well understood, but there is still lots to learn and research regarding biochemicals.

In terms of how these fit into modern agriculture, there are obvious and commonly used examples such as nitrogen-fixing rhizobia, which is used on pulse crops. These rhizobacteria form root nodules that fix atmospheric nitrogen that is transferred into the plant. There are organisms in the soil that convert ammonia into nitrates. Other organisms take phosphate and solubilize them to make those elements available to the plant. These organisms are in a mutually beneficial relationship with the plant, that can work to improve overall soil health.

Although the biochemical segment of biologicals is relatively undervalued, we are beginning to see considerable advantages to using humates. Humates consist of humic and fulvic acids, as well as raw humates. Humic and fulvic acids combine minerals to make them into organic compounds ingested by plants more efficiently. Humates come from a variety of sources, such as shale and coal. Different sources and processing methods are used to create humate fertilizer products.

When considering biologicals, it is essential to work them into an integrated pest management system. These products work best when paired with a well-managed fertility and soil plan. That way you are ensured optimal results. They must complement a nutrient and not replace a nutrient. Biologicals show significant value, but we are also faced with some limitations. Often, these products are misused and misplaced because growers don’t understand how to use them.

At SynergyAG, advancing our knowledge around these products is extremely important to us. We have a research facility located in Pense, Saskatchewan, where we frequently test products before recommending them. We collect soil from various locations around the province to ensure that the products we are trying will perform to peak standards for our SynergyAG team and our growers. We send our agronomists out with their boots on the ground to scout and monitor the field’s activity. Contact your local SynergyAG agronomist today to learn more about the future of biologicals.

 

 

Treating Your Fertilizer

As we transition into the winter months, we move away from fieldwork and into the planning stages for next year’s growing season. With crop rotation and soil sample results in mind, a fertility plan can be formed. Decisions must be made such as what type of fertilizer you will use, how much of each product you will need to achieve your desired lbs/ac, and how you would like to apply the fertilizer and when. One should always be thinking of the 4R’s: Right Fertilizer source at the Right rate at the Right time and in the Right place. 

All fertilizers are equally important, and one should not be prioritized over any others however macronutrients such as NPK&S are required in greater quantities and environmental losses are less tolerated by the crop – especially Nitrogen and Phosphorus. 

Nitrogen

Nitrogen is a vital nutrient because it is a major component of chlorophyll: a major component of photosynthesis.  Nitrogen also produces amino acids which are the building blocks of proteins that are essential to all plant processes. 

There are a few different forms of nitrogen that are commonly used throughout the prairies. The first being anhydrous ammonia in a gaseous form (NH3), the second being a liquid form (NH4), and the third being a dry formulation such as Urea (NH2). Nitrogen must be transformed from its many different forms into a plant-available form of NH4 through nitrification. These changes are caused by exposure to oxygen and water. 

Treating Nitrogen

Nitrogen moves around in the environment readily and is transformed and lost very easily, it is important to use proper practices to ensure your crop is getting the nitrogen it needs for the growing season. Whether you are broadcasting, top dressing, or putting your nitrogen in a row it is a good idea to treat your nitrogen. There are different options for Nitrogen treatments and stabilizers that work in different ways like inhibiting enzymes and keeping nitrogen in its immobile form for longer. By treating your nitrogen, you are ensuring that 10% more nitrogen will be available to the plant throughout the growing season, increasing your overall Nitrogen efficiency. So, no matter what method of Nitrogen application you are using, treating it will provide long-lasting protection from volatilization and leaching. 

Phosphorus 

Plants need Phosphorus for pretty much all normal processes, helping the plant mature in a timely fashion, photosynthesis and many other functions. Phosphorus levels are key for the plant to be able to complete all stages of the production cycle. Phosphorus is very abundant in our prairie soils but 50-75% of the P is in an inorganic, non-plant available form. The other 25-50% is organic P, this P is transformed into plant available P through processes such as mineralization and immobilization. These processes occur in your soils naturally, but it does not supply enough P necessary for your crop. 

Treating your Phosphorus

Unlike Nitrogen, Phosphorus is not lost due to volatilization but by being fixated in the soil by other cations or (tied up). This fixation is caused by elements such as calcium, aluminum, iron which are positively charged and attract the negatively charged phosphorus ions. Phosphorus treatments work by reacting with these cations, in turn protecting the phosphorus from fixation. By treating your phosphorus, it protects your fertilizer from being fixated in the soil and allows your fertilizer to be almost 50% more plant available, ensuring your phosphorus is available for the plant when it needs it most.

At Synergy AG we want your fertilizer applications to be as efficient as possible. If you want to learn more about fertilizer treatment and your options, contact your local Synergy AG representative or agronomist today!

 

Fall Cleanup

Harvest is well on its way in most areas of the province, which means there may be time left to do some fall work in the field. Adverse weather conditions add additional obstacles to get through when it comes to making management decisions be the most efficient and profitable as the season closes. We all know that herbicide efficacy is largely based on temperature and the growing conditions that the plant is living in. With that being said, there is always a sweet spot where the optimal performance will occur, but there are also some warning signs we need to look out for in these later months of the growing season.

As night time temperatures continue to drop, it is critical that we are keeping our best management practices at the top of mind when it comes to fall burn off. If the nighttime lows are dropping below 0°C, make sure to consider these key points before an herbicide application: Duration of the frost, the severity of the frost, the weather leading up to the frost, and the target weed species. 

Duration, Severity, And Weather Leading Up To The Frost

When temperatures drop to -2 to -3 there is usually minimal plant damage. At this point, you could spray later that day as long as the temperature reaches 8°C and stays there for 2-4 hours after application. As temperatures dip below -5°C, you will start to see greater damage to plants. You should hold off spraying for a couple of days so that you can assess the damage that was caused by the frost and make a better decision on whether or not an herbicide application is necessary. If there is enough healthy tissue left to take up the herbicide (roughly more then 60%), and the temperature is going to get up to 10°C, you could consider spraying. If there is a heavy frost the night after you spray, you could also see reduced efficacy with the application.

Spraying when weeds are actively growing is the key to getting good control with a herbicide. With cooler temperatures drastically slowing down the metabolism of the plants, they will experience less efficient take-up of the chemical. This is especially important when applying a systemic herbicide like glyphosate. 

Target Weed Species

When you are deciding whether or not you want to do a fall herbicide application, it may be useful to take a look at what weeds you are aiming to kill. Fall is a great time to hit perennials, biennials, and winter annuals. These species can undergo a more severe frost event than germinating spring annuals. If an annual weed species looks like it will set seed before freeze up, it may be worthwhile to spray. 

Research shows that Kochia regrowing after a mid-August harvest will likely not set seed before a killing frost event. This is important to note when it comes to herbicide resistance. If you are planning on using glyphosate to kill the annual weeds, specifically Kochia, you might just be adding to the selection pressure and increasing your risk of developing resistance. 

Fall is a great time to do some groundwork and get your fields ready for spring. Always keep the best management practices in mind to help you get ahead of the game!