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INSPIRING VIEWS ON THE EVOLUTION
OF SOIL AND AGRICULTURE

Pre-Harvest Burndown: Why Uneven Emergence Matters

As a grain producer, it’s always a satisfying feeling moving into August to see crops beginning to ripen. Of course, this means that harvest is just around the corner, which also means that it will soon be time for pre-harvest burndown (desiccation). The application of a herbicide before harvest (typically glyphosate) has become an important management tool, both in terms of harvest timing and weed control.

It is important to remember the proper stage and which crops can be safely desiccated without being subject to herbicide injury. For example, wheat can be desiccated when the seeds are at 30% moisture or when a thumbnail can be indented into the kernel without breaking. In canola, as is for swathing, the seed must have 60% color change. If seeds are not at the correct maturity at desiccation timing, they will not properly fill out and will either be lost out of the back of the combine, or remain in the sample to be downgraded at the grain elevator. In terms of grain grading, herbicide injury can be mistaken for frost or midge damage. Grade loss has a direct effect on a producer’s bottom line.

 

Frost damaged kernels similar to herbicide injury. Courtesy Canadian Grain Commission 

 

One of the causes of herbicide injury at desiccation timing is uneven maturity.  The crop may appear to be mature enough to spray, but if a crop isn’t evenly matured there may be some areas that get applied before it’s ready. One of the ways to help this is to use a drill at seeding that produces a consistent, evenly matured crop in all soil types and conditions. Seed Hawk’s innovative opener design and seed-to-fertilizer placement produces consistently even maturing plants, no matter the type of crop being grown. Growers work hard through the year to produce a healthy crop, and management practices such as this is another tool available to help achieve that goal.

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