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Make the Best of Your Crop Desiccation

Harvest 2020 is right around the corner and the memories of “Hellvest 19” are still a little too raw. While nature’s plans for Harvest 2020 remain to be seen, ensuring an adequate and timely dry down of the crop is crucial for a smooth harvest in any year. Hard water and high pH can reduce the efficacy of the desiccant herbicide, resulting in a slower dry down and delayed harvest. Read more to learn about solutions to make the best of your crop desiccation.

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The water quality conundrum for burn-off and in-season spray

When it comes to spraying foliar fertilizers to aid crop growth, or spraying pesticides to control weeds, diseases, and insects; sprayer operators and farmers pay close attention to various factors affecting product performance. These factors may include the calibration of the equipment, application timing, label instructions and to some extent, the water volume. However, oftentimes hardly any attention is paid to water quality – even though water comprises over 95% of the spray solution.

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Reducing the Build-up of Resistances on the Farm

Whether it is the result of water quality or the lack of rotation of pesticides on the farm, weeds and diseases are becoming more and more resistant to the active ingredients in pesticides. 

Previously, we have examined the effect of water hardness on the efficacy of burn down and desiccation, but water quality can also cause herbicides to be less effective on certain hard-to-kill species of weeds, ultimately leading to resistance. Continue reading to find out how to improve your herbicide efficacy with a simple “pHix.”

We will also be exploring the effect of elicitors – compounds which activate chemical defense in plants – to help enhance the effectiveness of certain fungicides, such as mono-site strobilurins.

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SopHten Your Water

I’m sure you’ve seen how hard water can leave its mark in and around plumbing fixtures and on clothing, but have you taken the time to consider what it means for your spray solutions?

Water across the Prairie provinces varies from moderately hard to very hard. If you are farming on the Prairies, you are, without question, dealing with some degree of hard water. And, as you may know, hard water goes hand-in-hand with high pH (greater than 7). Not only will hard water decrease the effectiveness of your crop protection products and foliar fertilizers, repeatedly spraying high pH water can make the soil acidic, creating a stressful growing condition for crops.

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Water quality and burn-off or in-season spraying

Water chemistry plays a large part in getting maximum efficacy from your herbicides during pre-season burn-off or in-season spraying. Tank mixing herbicides with hard water that has high pH levels can reduce their effectiveness, which can ultimately lead to less weed control and loss of yields.

The water from wells and dug-outs that’s often used on the farm is usually hard water. Testing for water hardness and pH level is a good place to start, and there’s a good chance the test will reveal it isn’t as soft as you’d like it to be.

Water hardness is measured in parts per million (ppm). Test results from 100–200 ppm indicate hard water, with anything over 160 ppm being very hard. The pH level of water for crop spraying shouldn’t exceed 7 on the pH scale. When the test reveals hard water and/or high pH levels, I always recommend a water conditioner to soften the water and lower its pH to make it more suitable for crop spraying.

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