With harvest getting underway or very near in many parts of the prairies it is an exciting time for many farmers and industry individuals. Even though the most important information — yield — will be in your hands soon, there is still a lot of other pieces of data that you can learn from the growing season by getting out and looking at your crop before and after you harvest it. On top of this there are other crucial decisions for next year that can be determined right at harvest.
Disease Levels: Canola is one of my favorite crops to check pre- and post-harvest to identify disease levels. Getting out into your field and getting an idea of sclerotinia levels can be something that easily explains the yield monitor’s disappointing reading, which may reinforce your decision to spray a fungicide. Next, after harvest I like to go out and pull canola stubble and cut the stems open to check for blackleg infection levels and severity. This can be a sign that different rotations or varieties may be something to try out, or maybe levels were high enough and a properly timed fungicide the next year would be of benefit. Checking cereals for premature leaf senescence or pulses for disease levels can also be of benefit.
Trial Information: On-farm trials are a great way to find out what does and doesn’t work on your farm, and are becoming more and more common. Often these trials are done and not looked at until they are ran over in the combine. While the combine ultimately measures the final yield benefit (or lack of one), there are other things that may be of value to you. Some of these include maturity differences, standability differences, or even something as little as surfactant burn differences. While these do not always equate to yield increases, there are situations where they do and having an idea of exactly what specific practices or products do can give you an idea of when/where to use them in the future.
Pre Harvest Applications: Pre Harvest application of glyphosate or desiccants are often overlooked in crops leading up to harvest. New land is often one that catches individuals off guard because there are certain areas that may not mature as evenly or there a lot more perennial weeds than thought. Failure to catch these can lead to decreased yield/quality as well as headaches for weed control the next spring.
These simple checks contain information that is going to be beneficial to your operation moving forward. Some of the most valuable information you gain going into next spring isn’t always from the conferences you attend in the winter, but in the time you invest in your fields in the summer and fall.