Rape is smothering Seth Pascoe’s durum

I have two particularly excellent-looking 53ha fields of spring oilseed rape on the farm. However, the only slight drawback is that they were actually drilled with durum. Roundup Ready rape volunteers are in abundance, thriving and smothering the durum.

With rape contracts at record high prices and feeble-looking durum, my initial reaction was to prescribe the field with glyphosate and grow out the rape. However, my inner agronomist side prevailed and these fields will receive a dose of florasulam with a matter of some urgency.

I recently decided to help a neighbour out with some contract spraying. The field in question had three corners, lots of short work, multiple oil wells and a row of telegraph poles across it. Remarkably, the job was completed and the sprayer left the field unscathed, although I’m sure the operator was somewhat emotionally traumatised from having to concentrate so hard. The following day in an open expanse of our winter wheat the sprayer was somehow magnetically drawn to the one and only obstacle in a 50ha field, with the end of the boom being clattered against a post marking an underground oil pipeline.

Collisions aside, typically the output of the sprayer is pretty satisfying. Large fields and a dedicated bowser ensure that we can get across the farm in a relatively short time. With the potatoes, it’s more often a case of timing the spraying to fit in between the irrigation schedule. I rarely have the opportunity to switch away from using bubblejets nozzles though, calm days are few and far between in this area.

April showers made potato planting a bit of a stop-start affair, but we persevered and were completed in good time. Now we are occupied with hilling up the ridges ahead of emergence. Although with evening temperatures often dipping down to 2-3C, it will be awhile before that happens.

Seth Pascoe is assistant manager on North Paddock Farms, at Taber, southern Alberta, Canada. Crops on the 1,800 acres of irrigated sandy-loam include potatoes for McCain Foods, durum and soft wheat, GM oilseed rape for seed and timothy for hay.

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