Pulse growers should check the germination and vigour of their seed before planting it this spring following tough harvest conditions last fall, advises Ed Thiessen, technical crop manager with Syngenta Canada.
That includes seed from crops treated with the the desiccant Reglone.
“In many cases they (farmers) were forced to put on Reglone at too early of a stage in the development of the crop,” Thiessen said in an interview last week. “Reglone shuts down the plant so quickly any seed that’s immature is going to stay immature and it doesn’t allow that seed to ripen.”
Reglone has been routinely used by Canadian pulse growers for almost 40 years and it usually enhances seed quality by drying down crops, allowing farmers to harvest them sooner than they would otherwise, Thiessen said. But last year crop maturity across the West was delayed.
In Manitoba, a wet spring delayed seeding. That was followed by a cooler than normal growing season.
In parts of Alberta and Saskatchewan, drought delayed germination, putting crops behind.
“The majority of (seed) samples are absolutely fine, but there are some where the germ and vigour are way down and some of these were treated with Reglone and people are scratching their heads wondering what’s happened here,” Thiessen said.
If the germination is low – under 90 per cent – and the vigour is poor farmers should consider getting better seed, Thiessen said.
But borderline seed can be improved with a seed treatment, he said.
According to Thiessen, Syngenta’s Cruiser Maxx Pulses, which wards off insects and seed and soil-borne diseases, also boosts seedling vigour.
Syngenta says independent research from the University of Berlin in Germany and the University of So Paulo in Brazil has shown thiamethoxam increases the production of plant specific proteins. They in turn boost seedling vigour.
“It’s not a panacea by any means, but we’re looking at ways to take a seed sample just marginal on germ and make it work and get a profitable crop,” he said.
Cleaning seed – removing shrivelled and damaged kernels – helps too.
Increasing the seeding rate might not help if seedling vigour is low, Thiessen said. A slower growing crop is more vulnerable to stress.
Farmers who applied Reglone last fall had little alternative, even though it damaged seed germination in some cases, Thiessen said. It was that, or risk not harvesting the crop at all.