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11 Tips For Max Pulse Returns

Barry Rapp, agronomy and seed manager with Crop Production Services (CPS), works with pea, lentil and chickpea growers in the Regina area. He provided these 11 “management practices to maximize returns” at the Saskatchewan Pulse Growers meeting at Crop Week in Saskatoon in January.

1. Use pre-harvest glyphosate the fall before planting pulses. This provides perennial weed control to clean up the field for pulse crops. For dandelion control, you can also try something like Expressglyphosate or PrePass in the year previous to pulse crops.

2. The year of pulse production almost always starts with pre-seed glyphosate. “You can’t ignore the benefit of early weed control,” Rapp says.

3. For best results, make pulses the first crop you seed in the spring.

4. In Rapp’s area, with its heavier soils and good soil moisture, he recommends a fungicide seed treatment.

5. The trend to higher seeding rates continues. Rapp suggests growers seed at one bushel per acre for the smaller seeded lentils, even though the recommended seeding rate is less than that. Three bushels per acre is desirable for peas, he says.

6. He recommends inoculant, of course. The question is whether you get a payoff from a higher inoculant rate. “This needs more study, but if you did choose to increase your rate, it can be an inexpensive way to add more yield.”

7. Certainly use phosphorus. Rapp recommends 15 pounds per acre of starter phosphorus, and maybe up to 25 pounds if you have good seed-fertilizer separation. As for nitrogen, he says some lentil growers will give the crop a little nitrogen to make the plants taller, lifting the pods a little higher off the ground at harvest. “The height difference is not huge, but a lot of growers who try this tend to stick with it.” Pulse growers rarely apply sulphur or potassium, he says.

8. “Weed control is the biggest challenge in pulse production,” Rapp says. Early weed control is important. Clearfield lentils and the opportunity to apply Odyssey has been a welcome addition, Rapp says. “With Clearfield lentils, there is temptation to wait out the weeds. But if you see the weeds there, I wouldn’t wait,” he says. The limitation with Odyssey is with rising group-2 resistant weeds. “Group-2 resistant kochia is arguably our number one weed problem,” he says. More growers are surface-applying Edge in the fall or spring before seeding. ”Growers see this as necessary where kochia is a problem,” he says. If you have higher populations of wild oat or significant volunteer cereal growth, Rapp recommends a switch to Odyssey DLX.

9. Watch for grasshoppers in lentils. The threshold is low: two grasshoppers per square metre. “When grasshopper populations are higher, it’s not uncommon for fields to have multiple passes for grasshopper control.”

10. Disease management starts with rotation. Four-year rotation between crops definitely makes a difference, especially for lentils. For anthracnose control in lentils, it has become almost common practice to apply fungicide at early/first flower. “Once you see the devastation this disease can inflict, you get a little gunshy,” Rapp says.

11. At harvest, desiccation is common for lentils. Swathing is preferred for quality, Rapp says, but growers want to make sure to get the crop in the bin. Most lentil acres are desiccated with Reglone. Rapp recommends you follow the label. “It doesn’t pay to cheat on rates and timing of application.”

Jay Whetter is the editor of Grainews.

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