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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!

Variable Rate Soil & Fertilizer

Would you treat these soils the same? You will probably answer no to that question, but if you are not applying variable-rate technology (VRT) on your farm, you ARE treating those soils the same. These soils came from a field with relatively flat topography and did not show a large amount of variability to the naked eye. The objective of variable-rate technology is to better distribute and customize inputs to maximize productivity.

Why Is VRT Important?

A large amount of soil on the Prairies has more than enough variability to warrant investing in variable-rate technology. Variable soils will often show variation in plant-available nitrogen (NO3-N), phosphorus (P), potassium (K), sulfur (SO4-S). The most crucial step in achieving success with a variable rate is finding/creating a representative map of the land you wish to variable-rate.

How Does VRT Work?

VR maps will break the field into multiple zones based on things such as topography, elevation, and electrical conductivity. Hilltops, mid-slopes, and depressions will be treated independently from each other. This allows you to pinpoint the strengths, weaknesses, and capabilities of each soil type. Having a detailed map to base soil sampling will give you a much more dependable soil test result. The overall goal of a variable rate fertilizer and seed prescription is to have your crop come in nice and even to reduce complications at harvest due to uneven crop stage.

How Is VRT Used?

Variable-rate maps can be used for multiple applications. Some of these examples include:

  • Seed and fertilizer applications with a drill
  • Fertilizer applications that are only needed in specific zones (applying Edge to zones with high Kochia populations)
  • Fungicide applications in the highest producing zones in the field

SynergyAG works closely with CropPro and SWAT Maps to create top of the line variable-rate maps for our customers. To learn more about VRT on your land, or start utilizing it on your farm, contact your local SynergyAG rep!

What To Do When Your Crops Experience Stress

Of all of the things that affect crop production, the environment is the single-most influential factor.  Both the positive benefits and the negative stressors created by the environment not only affect plant growth and the actual yield attained at harvest, but they also play a critical role in whether a plant will be able to reach its full genetic potential.  These next steps can be followed to assist you in making a plan on how to move forward. 

Recognize the plant stress: What is causing the stress?

Sometimes when plants look sick or appear to be under attack by insects or disease, the symptoms are actually a sign that the plant is being stressed by environmental factors.  For example, wilting can indicate insect or disease problems, but this can also be from adverse soil moisture conditions (too much or too little).  Wilting is also a normal response to extreme heat.  

Assess the damage: Is it economical to put more money into this crop?

Wait a couple days after the environmental stress event has occurred before going to assess the damage. This will give the plant time to show signs of life and recovery. It is important to make sure you make a decision based on the potential of the crop. Further action may not be needed if the stress causes enough damage, but it is very possible that there are still things you can do to help get a good yielding crop in the bin. 

Protect the plant: What is the best mode of action? 

If a plant has been physically injured by environmental stresses, it can create points of entry for diseases into the plant. It is extremely important to protect these sites, as the natural barrier on the plant has been compromised. Now that the plants have open entry wounds, there is an increased risk that disease will move in and take advantage of the struggling plants. Giving the plants the protection they need will give them the best chance at recovery. It is best to focus on applying any product within a week of the stress event. 

The use of a strobi fungicide is a very good option to gain maximum protection. Strobis have the ability to disperse and cover more surface area then just the site of contact, which means greater protection. They are also known to have some plant health benefits. BASF, Bayer, Syngenta, and Corteva all have strobi fungicides available. 

Give your crop an extra boost: What else does the plant need? 

Are you utilizing every pass you take over the field to its full potential? A tissue test can be a useful tool when it comes to deciding which nutrients will benefit your crop the most. The stage of the crop will also impact this decision. 

The nutrient application will help to alleviate some of the stress caused by the environmental event. Once you see that the crop is pushing forward and is showing signs of improvement, you may want to consider a foliar nutrient product to help kick start the plant. You will want to make sure that there is some leaf mass that this product can land on and absorb into. For example, if your lentil crop has undergone a hail event leaving only stems standing, you will want to wait until that plant starts producing leaves so that there is more surface area for the nutrients to enter the plant. 

If you need help assessing damage in your field and/or making a plan moving forward, call your local SynergyAG agronomist to come out and take a look. Happy spraying! 

 

How To Keep Cutworms Away

If you have noticed some bare spots out in your field, specifically on hilltops and in sandy areas, it would be a good idea to check in on your crop. Cutworms have been very hungry over the past few weeks and we have been finding them feeding in an array of different crops. 

The redbacked, pale western, darksided, army, and dingy cutworms are the five common species of cutworms that can be found, and cause economic damage in field crops on the prairies. Although some species are more common in certain areas, they all seem to be fairly widespread.

Where To Look

Most fields will have cutworms present in them, but not all will have concerning populations. It is important to scout, watch for any changes, and also monitor for the economic threshold. We usually begin by scouting any hilltops or areas in the field with lighter soil. Cutworms are known to prefer these areas because they are warmer and easier for them to tunnel around in. In these areas of the field, we check for spaces within the row as well as wilted or dead plants in those spaces. This is a telltale sign there are usually cutworms present, as they prefer to move from plant to plant within the row. You will also need to monitor those areas for germination issues or seeding misses, which can also be at fault for the spaces within the row.

Within these gaps in the row, you will need to carefully brush away the soil and locate the pest. Cutworms predominantly feed at night above the ground, and will shelter underground during the day. They are usually just below the soil or trash within the row, but can also hide in the soil between the rows as well. It requires boots on the ground scouting, and can be a very tedious process. 

If you check a few spots in the field and cutworm numbers are high, it is important to check what the threshold is for that crop, and determine if it is time for a control option. This will involve checking many different areas in the field to determine whether spot spraying is an option, or if the whole field needs to get sprayed. 

How To Control or Manage

On canola seed, you can add a group 28 insecticide treatment like Lumiderm or Fortenza, which will kill any cutworms that feed on the plant after they have germinated. This requires there to be some damage to your crop, but it is an effective option for cutworm control. 

Pulses and cereals are more challenging. Corteva has just released a new seed treatment called Lumivia CPL that is a group 28 insecticide, and it can be added to your regular seed treatment to help your crop defend itself against cutworms. Like the canola seed treatments, it also requires feeding and ingestion for control.

If you have not used any of the seed treatment products above, there are also in-crop insecticide options such as Matador and Pounce. Both will give you a similar level of residual activity and will effectively control cutworm infestations. 

Tips For Future Planning

Cutworm populations have increased over the last few years and don’t seem to be declining. If you have had cutworm infestations in the past, it is important to take that into consideration for the future. Take note of which fields had higher numbers, and monitor those fields closely in years to come. Also, consider on-seed control options mentioned above for fields that are of concern.

If you’d like one of our Agronomists to scout your fields for cutworms and other pests, find the nearest SynergyAG retail location to you!

 

Niki Beingessner CCA, PAg

Sales Agronomist – Yorkton

Flea Beetles – Chewing Their Way Into June

As many people find themselves finishing up the seeding season, we also find ourselves at the beginning stages of the bug season. If you have been out and about in your fields you have probably noticed small black bugs that are the size of a pin head bouncing around. 

The striped and crucifer flea beetles are the two common species that feed on canola in the Canadian prairies. Hop flea beetles can also be found, but occur in low numbers throughout the prairies. All three species can vary in the way they look, how they feed, and when they emerge. 

When To Look For Them

Flea beetles emerge in early Spring, and can cause damage to your canola crop from emergence, up until the 3-4 leaf stage. They aren’t picky eaters, and are known to feed on the cotyledons, leaves, stems, roots or any fleshy tissue on the plant. Sunny, warm and dry weather is preferred by the beetles, but less ideal conditions don’t seem to slow them down either. They are known to increase below ground and underside of leaf feeding during the less than ideal conditions.

How To Manage Them

It is important to assess where the bugs are feeding and how much of it there is. Action threshold levels are when average leaf area loss is more than 25%, and it is considered economically beneficial to spray insecticide when the leaf area loss is above 50%. There are no established threshold levels for stem feeding, which is why it is so important to assess where the feeding is taking place. If the flea beetles are actively feeding on leaf tissue, stem tissue and/or the growing point, the action level might be lower. 

There are different control options and management practices to help mitigate the damage these guys can have on your canola crop. Seed treatment options like Prosper Evergol and Helix Vibrance are standard on your canola seed to protect against flea beetles, but you can enhance your protection by adding Lumiderm on your seed when you order it. There are also in-crop insecticide control options to cover you off if populations rise and leaf damage is above threshold levels. Lastly, there are cultural control methods such as seeding early to get crop establishment before the emergence of the flea beetles, allowing a higher tolerance to injury. The second practice is increasing your seeding rate, this can help you reduce the impact of the flea beetle damage by spreading it out over more plants allowing for easier recovery from the stress event. 

Don’t Fear Though

The sight of these pesky little bugs probably have you wondering a few different things. Such as, why your seed treatment isn’t working. The truth is, it is working. But, with the newer chemistries, the flea beetles have to feed on the plant to ingest the insecticide for it to work. Whereas older seed treatments were used as more of a deterrent or repellent. Also, seed treatments only give a 28-35 day protection window after the crop is seeded, in cooler, dry weather the crop could be slower growing and not past the 3-4 leaf stage so it is at risk for flea beetle damage. 

Contact our SynergyAG Agronomists and they can help you determine which is the right course of action against your flea beetles! 

 

Niki Beingessner CCA, PAg

Sales Agronomist – Yorkton

 

Weeding Out The Weeds

Whether you are watching from the cab of a drill, floater, combine, or sprayer, this Spring you can see specks of green littering your fields that were unbelievably clean last year. This previous year was an anomaly on the Canadian prairies – A dry, cold Spring, where we had uneven germination, and weed-less fields for miles. Cue a timely rain in June, and that changed. Flushes of kochia, cleavers, and narrow-leaved hawksbeard took over our once clean crops. Fast forward to this year, we are seeing the repercussions of these flushes. Spring is a busy time, and a pre-burn is not always feasible, especially with the possibility of snow storms in April. Coming into post-emergence, we have to be prepared. 

Weeds such as kochia, volunteer canola, and wild buckwheat, although they look innocent, can prove to be detrimental to crop yields. High weed populations in the early part of the growing season create competition for water, nutrients, and sunlight, which are all essential for the developing crop. This is why it is important to have early control. A post-harvest application if possible, will reduce instances of winter annuals. A pre-emergence application will allow for a wide spectrum of herbicides to be used; in turn this doesn’t limit the weeds you can control. This will reduce stress on the plants and your sprayer operator, once the crop is emerged. 

Post-emergence, your options are limited a considerable amount. When this is the case, the best option is typically to wait until your crop reaches the appropriate staging for given herbicide options, and then spray. Given the way the growing season has started, our crops are going to have some early season vigour that we did not see in 2019. This means that it should have some competitive edge against weed pressure.

Another area we have advanced on in agriculture is herbicide rotation and herbicide layering. It is important to keep these in mind when spraying the crops, and when planning out your crop rotation. Herbicide rotation refers to using a different active on the same field with each pass. This is to ensure that weeds do not become herbicide resistant. An even more effective way to reduce herbicide resistance is to layer your active ingredients. This way, if one active only hurts the weed and doesn’t kill it, the next one will. This will limit the ability of the resistant plant to reproduce and make for a herbicide resistant mess in the following years. 

At the end of the day, your best option when it comes to weed control is to be proactive and to talk to your Agronomist. With them, you will want to discuss your options and the best way to control the spectrum of weeds in your field. Visit your local SynergyAG retail location and connect with their Agronomist.

 

Happy spraying!  

Karly Rumpel A.Ag., BSc.(Agr.)

Sales Agronomist

Synergy AG Govan