Get the lowdown on plant growth regulators and crop varieties

PGR fact sheet looks at lodging and staging while crop fact sheets examine performance in Alberta

New fact sheets on plant growth regulators and crop varieties are now available.

Plant growth regulators (PGRs) are synthetic compounds that can modify plant growth and development by altering plant hormonal activity. While PGRs are popular in other regions of the world like Western Europe, their use in Western Canada is relatively new.

“The plant growth regulators that we are interested in western Canadian cereal production are the ones that produce shorter stems that reduce lodging and to maintain grain yield and some of the harvesting headaches that come along with lodging,” said provincial agronomy research scientist Sheri Strydhorst.

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“Lodging is a major production constraint in high-yield environments in Alberta, particularly the irrigated areas or any areas where they’re pushing fertility and have good moisture conditions.”

The fact sheet Plant Growth Regulators: What Agronomists Need to Know (see image at top) looks at how PGRs perform on different crop species and different crop cultivars. It also goes into some of the plant physiology, and how PGRs change that to achieve shorter crops.

“Crop staging is absolutely critical with plant growth regulators,” said Strydhorst. “So this fact sheet gives a guide for growers and agronomists as to what those growth stages are so that they can be applied properly.”

The fact sheet also touches on why PGRs are not used on more acres in Western Canada. It also includes information about Ethrel and Manipulator, and the registration status of a new plant growth regulator coming down the pipeline.

“This fact sheet is one of those tools to give growers and agronomists some of that knowledge and help them be more confident in their use of plant growth regulators,” said Strydhorst, who coauthored the fact sheet with Linda Hall from the University of Alberta and Laurel Perrott from Lakeland College.

Three crop varietal fact sheets are also available.

Varieties of Cereal and Oilseed Crops for Alberta provides information on cereal and oilseed variety performance within Alberta and northeastern British Columbia,” said crop research technologist Alex Fedko. “Important agronomic characteristics and disease resistance information are provided for varieties of wheat, barley, oat, rye, triticale, flax and canola.”

Varieties of Pulse Crops for Alberta provides information on pulse variety performance within Alberta and northeastern British Columbia. Important agronomic characteristics and disease resistance information are provided for varieties of field pea, chickpea, lentil, fababean, dry bean, and soybean.

“An important component of the annual feed supply for Alberta’s cattle producers comes in the form of silage, greenfeed and swath grazing,” said Fedko. “As evidenced in Silage Varieties for Alberta, the selection of varieties that produce the highest forage yield and/or nutritional quality becomes increasingly important.”

The fact sheets can be found at the Alberta Agriculture website on its ‘Crops Publications’ page or by calling 780-427-0391.

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