Fall fertilizing continues to be a struggle
- Published on Thursday, October 18, 2012
By: Elmer Kaskiw
Fall fertilizing to date has been a real struggle as producers continue to deal with the hard, dry soil conditions.
The biggest impact is not so much on nitrogen losses, which have been really quite minimal in the case of ammonia applications, but on the wear and tear on equipment and the pace of application. Many of the tillage implements are simply not built to handle these types of conditions even with the speed of the application being cut in half.
Many canola fields which have been mined virtually of every drop of moisture are rock hard and simply being left at this point. Complicating matters even further is that with such a large percentage of the prairies experiencing similar soil conditions, the supply of replacement parts and openers has also become an issue. Hopefully rain in the forecast for mid-week will help alleviate these conditions however the lack of subsoil moisture means this moisture will be like pouring water on a dry sponge.
Without any subsoil moisture to meet up with any rainfall, it becomes extremely susceptible to evaporation and freeze drying from over-night frosts. We will need a series of rain events to really make a difference in the zero to six inch portion of the soil profile and substantial snow fall to replenish our sub soil.
Dealing with shatter losses from this year’s canola crop
If you were one of the unfortunate producers who had their canola swaths scatter due to the series of high winds experienced this fall, then you will have a severe volunteer canola problem to deal with over at least the next couple of growing seasons. Shatter losses in some fields were easily approaching 20 per cent, so on a 30 bushel crop, some fields will have upwards of 3,000 pounds per acre of canola on the ground.
Ideally we want to avoid burying these seeds at deeper levels since this will put them into a state of dormancy which will perpetuate the volunteer problem for years. Leaving them on the soil surface will see the vast majority either germinate or have germination initiated allowing the fall frosts and freeze up to take most of them out. In some instances, where tillage cannot be avoided due to severe ruts within the field, the tillage should be done as shallow as possible so germination of canola can still be initiated this fall. Again hopefully the rains forecast for mid week will help this process along.
October has always been what seems to be a short month however this year it really seems to have gone by quicker than usual.
The early completion of harvest has for many unravelled a lengthy list of projects that have been put off over the last number of years. That “to do” or “I just got to get that done” list just seems to get longer and longer. Shorter day light hours and frosty mornings further complicate the decision making process as to what jobs to tackle first.
Time management really becomes a valuable skill this time of year. Establishing priorities is important however being able to take on jobs that can be completed in a limited time frame is also important. Writing out a daily work plan can help one stay focused and not stray away from your original objectives for the day. Reviewing the day’s accomplishments can then bring on a sense of satisfaction and also create momentum and motivation to take on the next set of tasks.
Elmer Kaskiw is the Farm Production Advisor in the Shoal Lake MAFRI office