The 2022 crop season started with variable conditions across the Prairies. Some regions were colder and drier while other areas received high levels of late winter snow, resulting in less-than-optimal seeding conditions for many crops. However, many regions have bounced back as the season has progressed. Here’s what this means for seed and crop quality as harvest nears.
This year is different. Where 2021 was virtually devoid of disease pressure in many areas due to the dry conditions experienced, 2022 is a different story. In Manitoba and parts of Saskatchewan, conditions are very favourable for disease outbreaks. Many growers are applying fungicides pre-emptively to contain or slow the spread of disease. Disease testing will be more important than ever this year as the season progresses
Plants should recover, but disease pressure looms. Due to the excess moisture and heat, we’re beginning to see a lot of yellowing in fields. The prediction is that a number of these plants should be able to recover and be ready to harvest in late August and early September. At the same time, these conditions can contribute to increased disease risk as these plants mature.
There are many variables, which could mean low vigour. We will see a noticeable variability in many crop fields as some fields were seeded late, and others had to be re-seeded. It will lead to observed differences in the physiological maturities of crops from the same field, which may result in pockets of low vigour when the seed is finally harvested. We will be strongly recommending that all producers test for vigour at the time of harvest this year.
Records are important! As seed analysts, we always try to correlate crop field growth conditions and establish a link to what we see at the end of the season from clients’ submitted samples. We encourage growers — both farmers and seed growers — to keep records of their fields. Were any of the fields exposed to hail damage, flooding, or other challenging growth conditions? For crops that were seeded late, the possibility of plants being exposed to frost damage should not be ignored. It helps to keep notes so that later on, when you get your seed test results, you can draw and make correlations to help explain your seed quality.
This year is very different from last, and as a result, seed testing needs and results will be, too. The more you know about your fields and the conditions they face, the better off you will be going into harvest.