Seems like folks have kicked things into high gear across the province, given the week of excellent weather we’ve had. Quite a few farms have started planting potatoes or will do so imminently. Lots of grain being planted too. In many parts of the Island, soil conditions are dry in the top 3-4 inches of soil, but there is still a good amount of soil moisture deeper in the soil profile. Nonetheless, a bit of rain early next week (as currently forecasted) would be excellent to foster emergence on all crops.
Seed growers will have seen the announcement yesterday by the provincial government, where growers who plan to reduce seed potato acreage can get funding to plant soil-building crops and extend rotation by at least a year in certain fields. I’ve already had a few growers reach out to ask about what options they should consider.
There is a helpful two page table on the Agronomy website that provides an overview of some of the options to consider when choosing what crop to grow. Your choice of crop should be based on multiple considerations, including:
- What are you planting in that field next year?
- Do you want the crop to winter kill or are you already terminating it in the spring?
- What is the biggest issue with your field (wireworm? Early dying? Compaction? Organic matter?)
How you answer those questions will impact your choice of crop. If you would like to chat to discuss options, I’d be happy to talk to you. However, I will say that the choice of soil building crop is possibly not as important as minimizing tillage and soil disturbance. Organic matter and soil structure is built overwhelmingly by having a green crop actively growing for as long as possible with the minimum level of tillage necessary to get the crop established. With this in mind, consider planting crops or crop mixes that allow you to keep your field green and growing all summer and fall. With the current price of diesel, it’s also a great incentive to minimize tillage as much as possible!
Spornado Program – Year Two:
The Board, with assistance from the PEI Department of Agriculture & Land, will be delivering the 2nd year of a Spornado Late Blight Early Warning Network across the Island. We will have spore traps in 8 locations across the province, where we will collect samples once a week to check for late blight spores. With the amount of potatoes that were spread on fields this winter and potatoes being fed to cattle in the province…this year has a higher risk of late blight spread, so this program will be valuable.
If you would be interested in hosting one of these spore testing sites, please send me a quick note. We will be spacing them out across the province to try and ensure that everyone is within 15-20 km of a spore trap, if at all possible. The cartridges are very simple to switch out on the traps and we use the courier service through Access PEI to get the samples to Charlottetown so we can send them out on Monday afternoons.
Stay safe everyone…it’s a busy time of year, but never too busy to prioritize safety.