Crops looking good, but fusarium risk is high

Weather conditions see many Saskatchewan farmers spraying fungicides

Canola field in bloom near Mervin, Sask on July 7, 2016. Crops are looking very good in northwest Sask.

As crops in north-western Saskatchewan edge closer to maturity, Ian Weber is knocking on wood.

“I’m at the point I don’t want to see bugs and hail would be really bad. Because I think we’ve got a monster coming in. Things look good,” said Weber, sales manager with Warrington AgroDynamic of Mervin.

The Mervin-Turtleford area isn’t the only region with potential bumper yields. The latest crop report from Saskatchewan Agriculture notes that growing conditions have been optimal in most regions. Crops are developing rapidly, the crop report notes.

Over in Glaslyn, Geoff Schick, assistant location manager, said crops are looking very good in the area.

Crops are at least a week ahead of normal development, Schick added. Dave Shepherd, location manager, added that peas are already flowering.

Of course regular rain showers and thick plant stands are a recipe for disease. Shepherd said they’re seeing disease in wheat and peas.

In general, local farmers are spraying more this year than usual, although Shepherd said that might be due, in part, to fungicides becoming part of their regular programs. The majority of fungicide applications have wrapped, he said.

Pea growers are also seeing root diseases. Test results have just started coming in, but one pea crop had aphanomyces, fusarium, plus leaf diseases, Shepherd said.

Whether the more mature pea plants will fight off those root rots is a question mark. “Mother nature will decide,” said Shepherd.

Peas podding in a field near Mervin, Sask, on July 7, 2016. While there's a high disease risk this year, crops are generally looking healthy so far.
Peas podding in a field near Mervin, Sask, on July 7, 2016. While there's a high disease risk this year, crops are generally looking healthy so far. photo: M. Smith

Weber said there is some root disease in peas in his area as well.

“But so much depends on your rotation. If you’re pushing your rotation on peas, it’s a lot worse,” he said. Tight rotations also add up to more mycosphaerella blight in peas, he said. Field selection and seed treatments also play a role, Weber added.

Weber said farmers in his area are spraying for sclerotinia in canola. They’re also applying fungicide to wheat and peas a second time.

Weber noted they are in the high risk zone for fusarium. In fact, the high fusarium risk area cuts a wide swath across Saskatchewan right now.

It’s been quiet on the insect front for both ag retailers in the last week, although both plan to start scouting for bugs shortly.

The crop report noted few bug issues—some hopper issues in the west, wheat midge in east-central Sask, cabbage seedpod weevils in the southwest, and unspecified insects in the southeast.

Weather risks

Asked what farmers should be thinking about right now, Weber said hail insurance.

The latest reports from the Canadian Crop Hail Association said June 29 and July 3 storms caused the highest numbers of claims so far this year in the province. Significant storms have hit fields throughout most of the province.

Adjusters are still sorting through claims from June, and claims are still coming in from early July storms, the report notes.

“This weather is pretty risky. Guys have got a lot into it now,” said Weber. “Hopefully they’re protected somehow. The storms can be wicked.”

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