Diary Of The 2010 Wheat Crop At Blackstrap Farm

SOILS AND CROPS

On page five of the October 4 issue of Grainews,there are two pictures of one of my wheat fields. Early in the season, the crop was yellow and looked pretty sad from all the water, but I predicted the crop roots would reach nitrogen-rich soil at the critical time and turn around.

Was I right? Here’s a rundown of the 2010 growing season:

September 1, 2009Combined a 47-bushel-per-acre (net sold) yellow pea crop September 7, 2009 Field “woolly” with weeds. Sprayed with one litre/acre glyphosate to preserve moisture the weeds would use in a long fall. The soil was only moist to about 12 to eight inches, so moisture conservation was considered paramount. Little did we know what 2010 would bring.

October 26, 2009Applied 60 lbs. of nitrogen (N) per acre as anhydrous ammonia. Moisture conditions were perfect.

April 2010Pumped four sloughs so I could seed through. What a joke! They were seeded but soon drowned out.

May 13-15, 2010Seeded 90 lbs. per acre of Lillian wheat with 20 lbs. P2O5 per acre with seed, using my museum piece, an MF 360 discer. It meters wheat very well but fertilizer, well, not so much. One thing about the museum piece — it is a grand “burnoff.” A good catch of wild oats plus other weeds were stopped dead in their tracks after seeding with this.

June 15, 2010Crop sprayed with Axial plus Infinity. The timing was good and another good catch of weeds was dealt with. There were patches of sow thistle that the Infinity turned white, but a few came back by harvest. If you look back at page five of the October 4 issue ofGrainewsfor a picture of the crop at spraying time; it was yellow as a canary. Fall-applied N had been leached by all the rain at this point.

July 27, 2010As hoped, the crop did root down and find the N and by mid-to late July it was looking very good. There was some fusarium, some midge and lots of leaf diseases — but still a lot of heads — and it was super clean.

At that time, I predicted high-protein

Rain Record –Blackstrap Farm 2010

wheat because of the delay in N uptake and the limit put on yield by N deficiency when yield potential was being set. See page five of the October 4 issue of Grainewsfor details.

August 31, 2010I sprayed the crop pre-harvest with 1.1 litres per acre of glyphosate. The crop was mostly ripe by then but some green patches as always. The incessant rain had brought on some buckwheat plus a few sow thistles and the odd Canada thistle.

September 13, 2010The crop is now fully mature and the weeds are all dead but the rain carries on.

September 30 –October 1, 2010Finally, the rain stopped and we harvested 40 bushels per acre (bin measure) of dry, No. 2 wheat with (wait for it) 15 per cent protein. You read that right. I was quite delighted to see that my prediction had come true and even more delighted to harvest a good yield of fair quality.

As I sit here recovering from an excessive Thanksgiving dinner we must indeed be thankful for our many blessings. Farming takes a lot of skill, but much luck is involved and we must always remember that Mother Nature is in charge. She came through with beautiful harvest weather after several depressing weeks of wet.

J.L.(Les)Henryisaformerprofessorand extensionspecialistattheUniversityof Saskatchewan.HefarmsatDundurn,Sask. Healsorecentlyfinishedasecondprintingof Henry’sHandbookofSoilandWater,”abook thatmixesthebasicsandpracticalaspects ofsoil,fertilizerandfarming.Leswillcover theshippingandGSTforGrainewsreaders. Simplysendachequefor$50toHenry Perspectives,143TuckerCres,Saskatoon, Sask.,S7H3H7,andhewilldispatchasigned bookpostehaste

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