Forage specialist says to be cautious of nitrate accumulation

Photo: Debra Murphy, 2018

Unwanted snow that blanketed parts of Alberta and Saskatchewan in the month of September has left many farmers at a standstill near the more-than-halfway point of harvest for the year.

According to Karin Lindquist, forage and beef specialist with Alberta Agriculture, the frost could be also be a concern for nitrate accumulation.

“What happens is, is that the plants that are still alive, still showing a bit of green, they tend to act injured from the frost or even hail and then they accumulate the nitrogen right from the roots and then they take it up in to the plant so that they can basically repair themselves,” Lindquist says.

She says typically high amounts of nitrates accumulate in an immature plant. Cereal crops are most common to be hit with it, with oats being the worst to get it, and barley and wheat to follow.

In order to salvage your crop, Lindquist says it’s best to either get the crop off right away or to wait it out.

“Nitrates reach their peak level five to seven days after the weather event (hail, frost, or snow) so they have a two day window, basically one to two days, to be able to get in there and do something with that crop, take it off, salvage it,” she explains.

“Otherwise they have to wait two weeks or 10 to 14 days before they can actually do anything with it.”

Lindquist says, that roughly two week waiting period is crucial for nitrate levels to come back down.

Listen to Saskatchewan field editor Jessika Guse speak with Karin Lindquist about nitrate accumulation and what you can do to deal with it if snow should ever fall during your harvest season.

 

Jessika Guse

Jessika Guse is RealAgriculture's newest field editor and news lead for RealAg Radio. She's been a reporter since 2015 and has covered a variety of topics including one of her favourites, agriculture! Although she's never grown up on the farm, she loves helping out and learning as much as she can when she visits her families heritage farm near Ebenezer, Sask. You can find Jessika on Twitter at @JessikaGuse

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