Yields were perhaps the biggest surprise of the 2017 season. Late fall warm winds saved the Ontario corn crop, and Western growers were surprised with the yields they got considering the generally dry season. And now, it’s time to reflect on what you saw on the combine as you look forward to next season.
Mode of action
“In Ontario, growers and the research community saw that single mode of action herbicide programs failed more than others,” says Ferrier, Technical Services Manager for Eastern Canada and Horticulture for Nufarm. “We talk a lot about using multiple modes of action, and this year demonstrated the need for this approach, using multiple modes that are effective on the same weed.”
The number of fields hosting resistant weed biotypes continues to rise across the country. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Hugh Beckie recently presented the most recent resistant weed survey results for Saskatchewan…and the trend is unfortunately upward.
“Of the Saskatchewan fields surveyed this year, 60% contained a resistant weed biotype,” says Collier, Nufarm’s Technical Services Manager for Western Canada. “Looking at Group 2-resistant wild oats, resistant biotypes were found in 32% of fields tested this year, up from just 7% in 2009,” says Collier. And the trend is the same for other Group 2-resistant weeds including wild mustard, cleavers, shepherd’s-purse, stinkweed, chickweed and pigweed. For Collier, the take away is pretty clear. “If Group 2 is the only active you are targeting weeds with at any given application, you are increasing the chance of resistance.”
In Ontario, the value of early season weed control paid off. “When weed control gets off to a strong start, you aren’t trying to play catch up later on in the season,” says Ferrier.
In areas where wet conditions or early snow prevented a fall burndown application, like some of the dark brown and black soil zones in the prairies, Collier reminds growers they’ll need to plan for control of winter annuals in a pre-seed application next spring.
Even though fusarium levels were down in Western Canada due to drier conditions, Collier advised growers to get their seed tested and use seed treatment for control if necessary. “The seed labs are seeing fewer samples this year, but they are expecting a rush in January so now is a good time to get seed tested,” says Collier.
Consider cultural practices to help manage weed populations including seeding rates and competitive seed varieties. “Higher seeding rates give more value to a pre-seed herbicide application, and provide a better blanket of plant coverage to limit the number of weeds that can compete,” says Collier. “And planting varieties that are more competitive against weeds, producing vigorous plants that come out of the ground faster are another effective way to help manage weeds.”
Now is a great time to make notes on what to adjust for next year – weed problems, variety choices and disease issues – before you forget , suggests Ferrier. “Take the time to plan a proactive herbicide program to control your biggest weed troubles.”
When considering crop selection, Collier reminds growers to keep a pulse crop in your rotation, even with new tariffs on pulse exports to India. “We expect pulse acres to take a hit, but they are a great rotation option with the ability to boost overall soil health and fix nitrogen for the following crop.”