From the Ground Up

Inspiring views on the evolution of soil and agriculture.

Pre-Harvest Burndown: Why Uneven Emergence Matters

Wheat ready for straight cutting

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 …