By Mitchell Japp, PAg, Provincial Specialist Cereal Crops, Regina and Clark Brenzil, PAg, Provincial Specialist Weed Control, Regina
Lodged crops slow down harvest, can decrease yield and reduce quality. There may also be an indirect loss if a crop is lodged and harvest is delayed, especially if the later-harvested crop has decreased quality. Available tools can help prevent lodging and aid harvest management.
Using semi-dwarf varieties with improved straw strength, as outlined in the Varieties of Grain Crops, is a good start, particularly in situations/fields where lodging is a regular challenge. Plant growth regulators (PGRs) are another tool that has received interest in Saskatchewan over the past several years. A PGR is generally a synthetic compound that changes the way a plant grows by altering hormonal balances, typically at a critical time during plant development.
In areas where excess straw is a problem, the use of semi-dwarf varieties in combination with a PGR can make harvest easier by decreasing straw production.
The introduction of Manipulator (chlormequat chloride) into the western Canadian market by Belchim (previously Engage Agro) a few years ago piqued the interest of the agriculture community.
Manipulator is not the only PGR available in the marketplace. Ethrel (Bayer) and Cycocel Extra (BASF) are also available, but they have not been widely used. In western Canada, Ethrel is registered on spring wheat. Cyclocel Extra has the same active ingredient as Manipulator (chlormequat chloride), but its registration is for winter wheat only. Syngenta is currently evaluating another PGR, which may be available in the future.
Manipulator has now expanded its label to include barley and oats, in addition to wheat and durum. As always, any time a grower uses a new product on their crop, they should check with end users prior to application. Cereals Canada has adopted a yellow status for Keep it Clean for Manipulator on malt barley, indicating it may not be accepted by some buyers. At present, no regulatory issues are known for wheat, durum, oats or feed barley.
Although many of the Agri-ARM sites have been collecting yield, lodging and height data on wheat and durum for several years, the available yield data for oats and barley is limited. Belchim's data shows height reductions and therefore less straw with the use of Manipulator, with a smaller effect in barley than in oats. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada evaluated several PGRs on barley and found variable effects, but with little significance. Research results from Alberta suggest that the effect of Manipulator on barley can be limited, depending on variety and conditions.
For previous users, Belchim has expanded what is considered optimal timing; the company now recommends from the five-leaf stage to flag leaf (Growth Stage 30-39). They have also introduced flex rates. The normal rate for durum is now 0.5 L/ac, which can be increased to 0.7 L/ac in years with above average precipitation. For wheat crops, the normal rate is 0.7 L/ac, which can be reduced to 0.5 L/ac in years with less precipitation.
For more information, check the Guide to Crop Protection and Belchim's PGR App for staging.