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Do you like to learn in the field?

By Kaeley Kindrachuk, B.App.Sc, AT, Crops Extension Specialist, Outlook, Regional Services Branch

As agronomists and producers, we are in fields weekly to check and inspect crops for anything that might hinder their growth. There are a lot of decisions and recommendations to make during the year, ranging from which crops or varieties to grow to whether or not a pesticide application is warranted. When management decisions are black and white, these decisions are easy. It's when those factors are a little greyer that the decision-making becomes more difficult.

Learning in the field
Crop Diagnostic School is a great place to get
those hands-on experiences everyone in the
field needs.

Intercropping is gaining popularity as a possible option for some producers in different areas of the province, but until this practice is seen in the field, many are not sure just how viable this option could be. Some farms have been successful with intercropping for several years now, but many still have questions. With intercropping, there are many things to consider, including which crop mix to use, weed control and harvestability. Crop Diagnostic School is a good forum for asking questions about intercropping and learning how it can be used on your farm.

When we are scouting fields for insects, sometimes it's very obvious that the damage we are looking at in the field was, in fact, caused by insects. Usually it's the presence of the insect that tips us off. Sometimes insect damage can be confused with damage caused by something else (environmental, disease, etc.). In these situations, it is important to determine the cause of the damage in order to best determine what management strategies, if any, should be implemented. Once it’s determined to be insect damage, the decision to make an insecticide application can be challenging, as well. While we factor in the beneficial insect presence, we don't always know what it is we are looking at when we see them.

One of the most common questions regarding fungicide application is "should I spray?". Most producers and agronomists have seen the disease triangle – we need a host, pathogen and the right environmental conditions for disease development to occur. The past couple of years, it's the environmental conditions part of the equation that makes the fungicide application decision difficult. These conditions can vary from day to day and field to field, and when the right conditions develop, we may not fit perfectly inside the timing for spraying.

Clubroot is a relatively new disease to the province, and many people still have questions about the risk, prevention and management of the disease. After the 2018 extensive clubroot survey was conducted, we learned that on-farm scouting is still incredibly important. Also, the earlier we detect clubroot, the easier it will be to manage. Since this disease is newer, many might not know how or where to scout, or what symptoms to look for. Minimizing soil movement can be used to prevent the introduction of clubroot. When the disease is present, proactive management strategies, such as extended crop rotations and the use of clubroot-resistant varieties, can be used to keep pathogen levels low and minimize yield losses.

When the environmental conditions during the growing season are dry, we may start to see herbicide injury on our crops. Sometimes this can look like environmental damage, disease or even insects, but it's important to know what to look for to properly diagnose in the field.

All of these agronomic topics are important during the growing season and each will be discussed in detail at the 2019 Crop Diagnostic School. The school is open to all producers and agronomists who want to gain a better understanding on these topics and ask the experts the questions they need answered. For 2019, Saskatchewan Agriculture is partnering with Western Applied Research Corporation (WARC) in Scott, Sask., for July 23 or 24. More information can be found by contacting your nearest Crops Extension Specialist, and registration can be completed via the Prairie Certified Adviser Board.

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