Farmer Focus Arable: Seth Pascoe learns about new weeds

I’ve spent most of the past month crop walking and getting to know the weeds of Alberta. Many I’m already familiar with, but often they have different names, for example fat hen is lambs quarters in Canada.

A new one to me is kochia, an innocent-looking, tufty, broadleaved weed with hairy leaves. Left uncontrolled it turns into a large shrub-like bush which then blows around the countryside as unpleasant tumble-weed.

Another I was disappointed to see in large quantities was mallow. This triffid had given a good agronomist friend of mine considerable headaches in the UK.

My crop walking produced a large “to-do” list for the sprayer. However decent spray days came along and 130-acre fields are really advantageous for output.

Weed control in wheat is relatively straightforward here.

We use Simplicity (pyroxsulam), a product with a formulation that I can only describe as being akin to cow-snot. However, it does a good job of controlling wild oats, canola volunteers and suppressing numerous other weeds. We tank-mix it with a low dose of MCPA to hot-up its activity on broadleaved weeds and that’s all the herbicide required for the season.

I am very pleased with the performance of canola seed treatment Helix Xtra (thiamethoxam + difenoconazole + metalaxly-M + fludioxonil). I can barely find a plant with any serious flea beetle damage, yet in the next-door wheat field canola volunteers are being decimated.

The irrigation canals were filled on 8 May and since then most of the pivots have made a few rotations each.

The back of my truck is buried under spare nozzles, pipes and sprinklers as I have been driving around repairing winter damage. Until now the pick-up has been the dog’s territory and he looks less than impressed as I clutter up all his space.

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