5 Ways to Tighten Up Crop Maturity

With many growers across Western Canada experiencing a later than normal spring, seeding has been delayed for some. Once you being to get into the middle part of May and beyond, there is an increased likelihood of running into a fall frost. Here are some tips to help shorten the season as much as you can.

Switch to an earlier maturing variety: If you can identify early enough that delayed seeding could be an issue, consider switching some of your canola to a shorter season variety. Consult your provincial seed guide for specifics. With cereals it is much tougher to switch, but can be beneficial if possible. This may only gain you two to three days, but that can make a big difference.

Increase seeding rate: Bumping your cereal seeding rate by upwards of 15% can be very helpful decreasing your crops time to maturity. If you have a higher plant stand you decrease tillers per plant. An extra tiller adds several days onto a plants life while contributing very little to yield, usually over three tillers in a wheat crop for example, especially with a later seeding date, isn’t what you want to see.

Seed and depth: Seed as shallow as possible (while still hitting moisture). With cereals this generally means no more than 1” deep, with canola ideally you hit right around the ½” depth and with a pulse like lentils no more than 1”. This allows the crop to get out of the ground and photosynthesizing in an efficient manner. Consider using a registered seed treatment as well, even though you are likely seeding into warmer soils, root and seedling disease can still hinder emergence.

Seed place phosphorous: Phosphorous is key in early season vigor and root growth in plants. Since it is an immobile nutrient, having it readily accessible to new seedlings can go a long way. Be sure to stay within the recommended safe seed placed guidelines! To further this a proper fertility package as a whole can ensure your crop isn’t wasting time scavenging for nutrients. (http://www.agriculture.gov.sk.ca/Default.aspx?DN=e42316e3-15ea-4249-ac0e-369212b23131)

Proper herbicide application: Crops have to metabolize herbicides when they are sprayed. If a herbicide is sprayed too late, plants can struggle to grow vigorously through it and can be set back a few days. Cutting back rate (within registered guidelines) can be beneficial as well, instead of using 8 active oz of 2,4-D on your wheat, if five or six oz will get your problem weeds then go that route. To take it a step further, if you can use a product that is easier on the crop, such as MCPA vs. 2,4-D, then take advantage of that. Lastly, and maybe most importantly, avoid spraying when your crop is under stress!

If you can deploy a few of these tactics with your later seeded crops you are well on your way to a mature crop before that first frost hits.


Shane Thomas

Shane Thomas is an agronomist with G-Mac’s AgTeam in West Central Saskatchewan. He grew up in Kindersley, Sask and went on to obtain his Diploma in Plant and Soil Science from Lethbridge College and a Degree in Agricultural Economics from the University of Lethbridge in 2012. Shane enjoys playing sports, hanging out with friends, keeping up with the economy and reading in his spare time. Find him on Twitter: @ShaneAgronomy and his blog at: http://shaneagronomy.blogspot.ca/


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One Comment

Rory Cranston

There are other benefits to increasing seeding rates and decreasing tillering in wheat . A decrease in tillering will decrease the variation in timing of flowering as well as reduce the amount of time a wheat crop will be in flower. As a result, identifying the appropriate stage to apply a fungicide to control fusarium head blight(FHB) will be easier and the window where FHB infection can take place will be shorter.


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