When Should I Swath My Canola?

Staging canola for swathing or pre-harvest desiccation is critical to maintain high quality seed and maintain yield. Ideal swath timing is when 60% of seeds on the main stem have turned colour, meaning 60% of all the main stem seeds are showing some form of colour (yellow, brown, black) other than green.

For 60% seed colour change, the bottom third of the main stem of the plant will have totally brown/black to purplish seeds, the middle third will have turned, or be showing some spots of colour, and the top third are green. The green seeds must be firm and should roll between your fingers without squishing. At this stage, the average moisture content is about 30%.

Producers are reminded that more than one area in a field will need to be assessed for seed colour change. Relying on a visual assessment of canola pod colour alone will not provide an accurate estimate of crop stage. In many cases, the outside of the pod colour can turn brownish yellow but seeds inside may still be green.

Swathing

Delaying swathing of canola until the 60% seed colour change stage usually allows for:

  • Improved yield and quality through increased seed size
  • Reducing green seed
  • Higher oil content
  • Minimizing economic shattering losses

Earlier swathing tends to lock in green chlorophyll in underdeveloped seeds, reducing oil content and potentially causing marketing issues. Canola can be swathed in the 30-40% seed colour change stage to manage a large number of acres ripening at the same time, but producers should be aware that swathing at this stage can cause yield losses up to 8%.

Dry growing conditions and damaging weather have impacted canola development across Manitoba in 2018. Evaluating canola fields for evenness and uniformity is important to selecting the right time to swath or desiccate the crop. If growth conditions allowed large patches of delayed emergence, or hail set back crop development, estimating the patch size and managing the crop according to the largest percentage area is a good recommended practice.

Pre-Harvest Aid/Desiccation

Glyphosate, Heat and Diquat herbicides are all registered for use as either a pre-harvest aid or a desiccant on canola. Check the labels or the Guide to Crop Protection (https://www.gov.mb.ca/agriculture/crops/guides-and-publications/#gfcp) to know their specific use.

In general, a pre-harvest aid (glyphosate and Heat LQ) should be used to increase plant tissue drydown and kill green weeds. The correct stage is 60-75% seed colour change. Expect to harvest the crop 1-3 weeks after spraying, similar to the time expected between swathing and harvesting.

A desiccant with the active ingredient diquat works more quickly, forcing removal of crop moisture. A fast-acting product, expect to harvest 4-7 days after application. Target a minimum of 90% seed colour change, as diquat will lock in any remaining green chlorophyll in the seed.

Points to Consider

Caution is advised when swathing or desiccating a canola crop, since that is considered growth and development termination, according to pre-harvest interval (PHI) standards. Know the length in days PHI of the fungicide and/or insecticide used on the crop; swathing or desiccating should not take place before that PHI window closes.

More tips on canola harvest management can be found here: https://www.canolacouncil.org/media/530966/canola_swathing_guide.pdf

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It’s Probably Not Giant Hogweed – 2018

Because of our experience with crops and weeds, it’s no surprise that the general public often turns to agronomists for plant identification and management advice. And it’s usually about this time of year – when Ontario puts out giant hogweed advisories and big white umbels are in bloom across Manitoba – that these calls start to pour in.

Cow Parsnip

Fortunately, it’s probably not giant hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum) since that invasive species has yet to be found in our province.  It’s more likely another member of the carrot family – cow parsnip (Heracleum maximum).  Unlike its giant cousin, cow parsnip is native to Manitoba and non-invasive.  It’s also very attractive to pollinators.

But even though it’s probably not giant hogweed, it’s still best not to touch it. Because, much like its giant cousin, the sap of cow parsnip may cause dermatitis when in contact with exposed skin.  Symptoms include photosensitivity, a rash and/or blisters.  Reactions to cow parsnip sap are generally much less severe than those to giant hogweed sap.

For more information, see poster on Poisonous Plants in the Carrot Family on Manitoba Agriculture Weeds landing page

 

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Scouting & Management of Sunflower Rust

Rust in sunflower is caused by the fungus Puccinia helianthi, which overwinters on plant stubble and produces five spore‐stages throughout the year. Early in the season, orange rust pustules appear on the upper surfaces of cotyledons of seedlings and volunteer plants, with later infections moving to the underside of the leaf (Figure 1).  The most yield-damaging stage occurs in late July to early August, when symptoms of infection show up as dusty, dark brown pustules on leaf surfaces, petioles and flower bracts (Figure 2). As the disease develops, black teliospores form, overwintering on the crop residue.

 

Figure 1: rust on leaf underside (photo: MB Ag)

 

Figure 2: Rust on leaves, stem. Wilting plants (photo: MB Ag)

Sunflower rust becomes a more severe issue in later-planted crops, or crops with weaker genetic resistance. Warm, moist weather favours rapid multiplication of rust spores, and windblown spores can travel quickly from field to field.  Early stages of sunflower rust in 2018 have been observed in the Cypress River area the week of July 3rd.

High plant populations and dense, leafy canopies allow humid conditions to remain in the crop throughout the day, compounding injury from rust spores.

Scout sunflower fields regularly to monitor the development and stage of rust infection. Watch for dense clusters of brown, powdery pustules scattered over all plant surfaces.  Orange-brown ‘dust’ on clothing after being in a sunflower field is a key indicator that rust is present, and more careful scouting is needed. Withered lower leaves are an indication that the surface is heavily infected.

Controlling rust after infection is primarily done using triazole-based and strobilurin-based fungicides. Recommended action in rust-infected crops is to use a fungicide from the triazole group after the first onset of symptoms, at the 2-3% pustule coverage on the upper four leaves at flowering (R5).  Strobilurin-based fungicides act more as a ‘protectant’, applied earlier before widespread infection occurs.

See more information on sunflower rust at https://www.gov.mb.ca/agriculture/crops/guides-and-publications/#gfcp

See Guide to Field Crop Protection for more information on fungicides registered at https://www.gov.mb.ca/agriculture/crops/guides-and-publications/#gfcp

National Sunflower Association of Canada information on Sunflower Diseases: http://www.canadasunflower.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/Disease.pdf

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Is it Time to Make Wheat Protein?

Wheat growers are nearing decision time on whether to supplement their wheat crop with nitrogen for protein enhancement.

Currently it is suggested that if the yield potential of the wheat crop looks good, and higher than for the N rate initially supplied (i.e. at 2 lb N soil and fertilizer per bu), consider trying a treatment. And check with your marketing consultant whether market signals suggest a shortage of high protein wheat being harvested elsewhere.

Full report and details on treatment and results from University of Manitoba study found on the Manitoba Wheat Barley Growers Association website: Time to Make Protein – The Wheat Grower’s Decision

 

 

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