Pulse School: Proper crop staging for timing a pre-harvest pass

We’re getting closer to that exciting time of year again: harvest. The southern areas may already be getting into it, but in the central and north parts of the Prairies, producers will be thinking about staging their pulse crops in the coming days or weeks.

“Every year we kind of have to reeducate, even ourselves, the proper timing and use of a pre-harvest product,” says Bethany Wyatt, senior technical service specialist with BASF. There are a number of pre-harvest pulse crop products on the market now, and they each do something a bit different, so it’s important to know how each product works.

Weed dry-down might be a concern, if you had later rains and a second flush of weeds. Crop dry-down might also be a concern, and because pulses are indeterminate — as long as they have good weather, they’ll keep growing — you might need help speeding the crop along, Wyatt says.

Variability in the field will really throw a curve when you go out to stage the crop. “Ultimately what you’re looking for is the vast majority of the field should be that brown to yellow staging,” says Wyatt. Staging should be based off of the least mature area of the field.

Producers should also consider what the seeds in the pod look like. too. Pulse crops mature from the bottom of the plant up, so in general, the seeds at the bottom of the plant will detach from the pod and will rattle when shaken. Going up the plant seeds will be less mature, but should be fully formed, firm and have no moisture when you squeeze them in order to qualify for a pre-harvest pass.

Staging pulse crops appropriately is really important since about 85 per cent of pulse crops are exported, says Wyatt. Exceeding maximum residue limits can lead to market challenges or rejections. Elevated levels of pre-harvest aid can be detected if the product is applied too soon, which could jeopardize the market we so heavily rely on.

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