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Diary of a wheat crop

After a successful 2014 grain harvest at 
his Dundurn farm, Les Henry is grateful

This is the story of my 2014 wheat crop at my farm near Dundurn.

August 25, 2013

Combined a 55 bushel per acre pea crop. No rain for over a month, so soil dry.

September 24, 25, 2013

Mother Nature declares. There was 2.25 inches of nice gentle rain, all soaked in. Soil is now moist to 18 inches and only a short, partly dry depth of about 10 inches and then residual moisture. So, by spring there will be no dry layer. Time to pour on the coals.

October 18, 2013

Applied 88 pounds of nitrogen per acre as anhydrous ammonia. It went in very nice to three to four inches — perfect conditions with almost no “poofing” of ammonia.

October 23, 2013

Floated on 100 pounds per acre of ammonium sulphate 21-0-0-24, so another 21 pounds of nitrogen (total now 109 pounds of nitrogen per acre), and 24 pounds per acre of sulphur.

The thinking: Mother Nature has given us four irrigation years in a row. With the soil full of water it is worth a chance that Mother Nature has another irrigation year in store. I like lots of nitrogen on wheat. If you do not get it a reward in yield you get it in protein which some years pays well.

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May 14, 2014

Seeded Waskada wheat at two bushels per acre with 42 lbs./acre of 12-52-0 with the seed. Outdated technology (CIH 7200 Hoe Press Drill equipped with Atom Jet openers) but it does a very nice job of tucking the seed 1.0 to 1.5 inches in to the soil with very good row packing.

May 27, 2014

Nice even germination and emergence.

June 8, 2014

Herbicide Spray. Axial for wild oats, etc., and Dupont DB-8454 wettable granual herbicide. It is a mix of Refine SG and Dicamba. Thanks to Vern Hiebert of Richardson for suggesting that herbicide. It did a fantastic job of all broadleaf weeds, including sow thistle that resulted from late germination in the 2013 pea crop.

June 9, 2014

Crop stage at herbicide time. Not many weeds at this location but some areas did need it. If there was a way to spray only the areas needed, that would save a lot. But, any time I have tried spraying patches it never seems to work that well.

June 30, 2014

Looking good. Note the good broadleaf weed kill at field edge.

July 13, 2014

Crop sprayed with Prosaro for disease, particularly fusarium head blight. Headed with only a few flowers. A few days after spraying an alarming amount of leaf disease appeared and later, some FHB.

July 20, 2014

Grandchildren Olivia and Thomas Haidl check out Grandpa’s crop

August 20, 2014

Ripening fast and fairly even, but some lodged patches were slower to turn. Crop was sprayed with one liter of glyphosate on August 26.

September 8, 2014

Ready for the combine but showers slow down combining.

September 15, 16, 2014

Crop combined. Final yield a bit shy of 50 bushels per acre (do not have final weights yet). Protein 14.8 and graded No. 2, bleached. Fusarium was only 0.2 per cent or less which was a huge relief. With all the inputs I was hoping for more yield but that was wishful thinking. The good protein did give a worthwhile bonus.

If the price was still $8.30 per bushel like the last wheat I sold it would be a great year. But, we must consider ourselves very lucky when one hears about the wet disasters in parts of southeast Saskatchewan and southern Manitoba.

We are richly blessed and must be very grateful. Mother Nature has now given us five irrigation years in a row — unprecedented in my 59 years of combining. My neighbours that irrigate from Blackstrap Lake are getting tired of moving the pivots to farm under them.

About the author

Columnist

Les Henry

J.L.(Les) Henry is a former professor and extension specialist at the University of Saskatchewan. He farms at Dundurn, Sask. He recently finished a second printing of “Henry’s Handbook of Soil and Water,” a book that mixes the basics and practical aspects of soil, fertilizer and farming. Les will cover the shipping and GST for “Grainews” readers. Simply send a cheque for $50 to Henry Perspectives, 143 Tucker Cres., Saskatoon, Sask., S7H 3H7, and he will dispatch a signed book.

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