Parkland College has released the findings of a pair of agriculture research projects it conducted in partnership with the East Central Research Foundation (ECRF) at their research farm just south of Yorkton. They investigated two projects in the summer of 2014: the productivity and quality of various cereal forages based on early or late seeding; and the effect of fungicide timing on two varieties of spring wheat.
Scientists working on the forage project in Yorkton found that varieties of barley are more likely to be adversely affected by a later seeding date than oats and triticale. They also found that Golden German millet is consistently hampered when seeded into cool conditions, although some redeeming qualities make it a good candidate for swath grazing.
Meanwhile, researchers found that applying a fungicide to spring wheat for the suppression of fusarium head blight at the early heading stage produced greater yields than fungicide applied at the flag leaf stage.
Quality of Cereal Forages Based on Seeding Date
The cereal forage trial at Yorkton was conducted at the same time as a sister site near Melfort (Northeast Agricultural Research Foundation). Seven crop species were seeded early (late May/early June) to represent greenfeed and late (late June/early July) to represent swath grazing: CDC Cowboy barley, CDC Maverick barley, CDC Baler oats, CDC Haymaker oats, Bunker triticale, Tyndall triticale, and Golden German millet.
For the early-seeded trials, the triticale varieties provided the highest yields at Yorkton, while the barley varieties yielded best at the Melfort site. But when compared with data from other Agriculture-Applied Research Management (Agri-ARM) sites across Saskatchewan, there appears to be no clear winner when seeding cereal forages early. Based on 10 site years of data, Tyndall triticale outyielded Baler oats 1/10 site years, yielded less 2/10 site years, and was not statistically different in 7/10 site years. For Tyndall triticale versus Cowboy barley, Tyndall was higher 4/10 site years, lower in 2/10 site years, and not statistically different for 4/10 site years.
“No variety won the yield battle, but Golden German millet was clearly the loser,” lead scientist Mike Hall reported. “In five of the 10 years, it yielded significantly less than all the other forages, and it never yielded better than any other forage. It’s a warm season crop that grows very slowly when seeded into cool conditions. As a result it can be highly uncompetitive with weeds. However, it does have some redeeming qualities such as a waxy coating that helps to preserve its forage quality and makes it a good candidate for swath grazing.”
The College and ECRF undertook this study because of results from Lacombe, AB. Researchers there found that the yields of triticale and oats could be substantially greater than barley at late seeding dates – almost double in some instances. Barley is photosensitive, which means it shortens its vegetative period in response to later seedings. This does not happen with triticale or oats. It is hypothesized that this is at least part of the reason for the lower yield potential of barley when seeded late.
This was reflected at the trials in Yorkton, where the late seeded barley yielded substantially less. But yields of oats and triticale were also reduced after 120 mm (4.7 inches) of rain fell over several days after seeding. This greatly reduced crop emergence and likely impacted yields. It is uncertain how much of the yield reduction for barley can be attributed to its photosensitivity.
“At Melfort, barley’s yield standing versus triticale and oats did decline with the late seeding, but the differences were relatively modest compared to the results from Lacombe,” Hall said. “More work is needed in this area. It would be good to know if some barley varieties are more sensitive to late seeding than others.”
At harvest time, all crop species provided comparable quality feed with protein and total digestible nutrient (TDN) levels adequate for mid-pregnancy cows.
Effect of Fungicide Timing on Wheat Yield and Quality
Two wheat varieties investigated differed in their level of resistance to fusarium head blight: the variety Unity is rated as “fair” whereas the variety Goodeve is rated as “very poor”. In either case, leaf spot diseases were significantly reduced by applying the fungicide Twinline at the flag leaf stage or the fungicide Prosaro at early heading. Without fungicide, the level of fusarium damaged heads was higher in Goodeve, as expected.
Applying Prosaro at early heading significantly reduced fusarium damaged heads to similar levels between the varieties. Prosaro also reduced the number of fusarium damaged kernels in the harvested grain, but it wasn’t enough to raise the grade from a #2 to a #1. Twinline, applied at the flag leaf stage, resulted in a 3.5 bushel/acre increase in yield. Prosaro at early heading resulted in a 5.8 bushel/acre yield increase. The greatest yield gain was achieved by using Twinline at flag in combination with Prosaro at early heading – providing an increase of 10.9 bushels/acre.
“This is not a result that farmers want to hear,” Hall said. “No one wants to spray fungicide at the flag leaf stage only to turn around a week later to spray the field again. But if we look at data from other research sites across Saskatchewan, we find the dual application of fungicide only resulted in the highest yields three out of 21 site years. The rest of the time it was no better than applying fungicide at the early heading stage.
“Based on Agri-ARM data, it would appear that applying a fungicide for the suppression of fusarium head blight at early heading gave the biggest bang for our buck. In 24 site-year comparisons, it usually resulted in higher yields than fungicide applied at flag leaf stage – and never yielded less.”
For more information on these and other research projects conducted by ECRF and Parkland College, visit www.ecrf.ca and check out the video section under the trials tab.
About Parkland College:
Since its inception in 1973, Parkland College has worked to expand the philosophy of life-long learning in East Central Saskatchewan. Among the seven basic principles upon which the community college system was founded is the idea that programs are to be developed in response to the needs of the community. Today, Parkland College offers a broad spectrum of educational services from trades training and high school upgrading to the province’s most diverse off-campus university offerings.
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