Agronomy Update – August 26

Hi everyone,

I trust that most growers are in a bit better mood this morning after the rains yesterday.  Totals are quite variable by community due to the fact that so much of it came in thundershowers, but here is the general trends I can see from the weather totals reported through Weather Underground, Ukko Agro, or individual growers:

West Prince:  mostly 20-35 mm except for O’Leary Road (closer to 15-20 mm)

Around Malpeque Bay (Tyne Valley/Lot 16/Miscouche/Hamilton/Malpeque):   45 to 70 mm

Summerside/Kensington:  30-45 mm

Bedeque/Kinkora:  20-35 mm

South Shore (Crapaud/Tryon/Hampton/West River area):  10 to 20 mm

North Shore (New London/Rustico/Covehead):  20 to 30 mm

Cornwall/Ch’town/Stratford:  15 to 25 mm

South East (Wood Islands/Murray River):  25 to 35 mm

St. Peter’s/Morell:  15 to 20 mm

Souris and east:  15 to 30 mm

Lowest totals I’ve seen are around 5 to 8 mm (from Oyster Bed to Savage Harbour).  Highest at Central Lot 16 and Miscouche at 68-70 mm.

It looks like most communities got around 20 mm or more…which will likely be the saving of the crop for fields that have still been hanging on.  This will be additionally improved by predicted rainfall on Saturday/Sunday.

Crop Update:

There are fields that have been top-killed now, particularly early tablestock and creamers.  There are other fields that are effectively dead and that will be too late for this rain, unfortunately.  It will be interesting to see how the plants respond after so long without rain…hopefully they will perk up and start bulking tubers rather than crashing.  From all reports that I’ve seen as well as plants I’ve pulled myself, average set number is similar to 2018 and behind the average.  The dry weather in late July and early August definitely meant that we had some aborted tubers, unfortunately.  Now to just get size on the ones that remain.

I am hearing some worries about scab in non-irrigated acres, which is not a surprise.  I personally haven’t seen much off-type yet but undoubtedly there will be some, particularly as potatoes bulk after this rain.  Also hearing reports of higher amounts of wireworm damage in some fields, particularly on the south shore.  We’ll keep an eye on this as we get further into harvest season.

In terms of disease and pests, reports from around the province are rather good.  Early blight and grey mold spore numbers are below.  Early blight numbers have trailed off considerably in the last two weeks.  Grey mold (Bortrytis) numbers are primarily high at a few sites in Kings County, very low elsewhere.

Late blight spores have still not been detected in PEI this season.  Likewise, they have not been detected in New Brunswick or Maine, either.

Table 1:  Spore Trapping Results for Monday, Aug 3rd and Wednesday, August 5th:

Community Fri, Aug 21
Early Blight
# of spores
Mon, Aug 24
Early Blight
# of spores
Fri, Aug 21
Grey Mold
# of spores
Mon, Aug 24
Grey Mold
# of spores
Elmsdale 0 9 18 58
O’Leary 40 13 18 551
Wellington 27 13 111 4
Summerside 0 9 0 0
Kinkora 9 0 44 13
Meadowbank 0 4 316 13
New Glasgow/Rustico 0 0 4 4
Oyster Bed/Winsloe 9 27 4 27
Souris 0 4 1022 36
Elmira 4 0 2231 813
Dundas 0 4 164 1951
Stratford 9 31 22 4
Average 8 10 330 289


AIM Field Tours Next Week:

We are planning some field tours next week to show growers some of the different trials that we are working on through the AIM program this year.  I will have a full itinerary and details later this week, but I wanted to get dates and times to you to put in the calendar.

AIM Eastern Tour:          Wednesday, September 2nd in the afternoon

Visits in St. Peters and Baltic Road

AIM Central Tour:          Thursday, September 3rd in the morning

Visits in Middleton/Kinkora area

AIM Western Tour:        Thursday, September 3rd in the afternoon

Visits in Springfield West and Elmsdale

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, we’ll be asking people to pre-register by emailing me.  Priority will be given to growers, but if numbers allow we would be happy to have other AIM partners attend.  Watch for more details later this week.

Fall Cover Crops – Update:

I had lots of calls and questions after last week’s email on the subject of cover crops.  So glad to hear that there are lots of growers looking at their cover crop plans for this fall.

With the rain from yesterday as well as the rain forecast for this weekend, hopefully that will help with more rapid emergence for newly planted seed.  As well, it should help make it easier to get tillage done!

A few thoughts:

  • If putting glyphosate (Round-up) on sod fields, make sure the glyphosate has enough time to move into the roots and do a complete job before tillage.  Doing applications now after some of this rain should help with effectiveness.
  • If planning to use a brassica crop like radish, mustard, or rapeseed as a fall cover ahead of potatoes, the window for good establishment is now until about September 15th.  After that, you might start running out of time to get good biomass…the earlier, the better. To maximize biomass you might also want to consider mixing these brassicas with a spring cereal like barley or oats.
  • It seems likely that there will be more potatoes dug in September this year due to the fact that they ran out of steam early due to the drought.  These would be great fields to get cover crops like fall rye or winter wheat on in order to maximize yield potential for harvest next year.  Let your fall cover crop also be a cash crop, where possible!
  • I see quite a few growers out ripping fields with a subsoiler right now to break up compacted layers…perfect time to do that, when it’s dry.  Where possible, try not to travel on those fields again after ripping.  As well, ripping a field with a living forage crop or seeded to a cover crop should help keep that fractured soil apart going into the winter.
  • There are a lot of beef and dairy farmers short of feed.  If you have fields that you would be normally mulching that could be baled for hay/silage, you may want to consider talking with your neighbours to see if they need forage.  You won’t be sacrificing much organic matter and you may be building better relationships with fellow farmers.  Make sure your costs are covered but it’s an opportunity for some cash flow in what will likely be a challenging year for everyone.  NOTE: Sudangrass should be done sooner rather than later, as it can’t be used for cattle feed after getting a frost. Make sure any farmers you work with know this.

Looking for Trial Partners:

  • For an AIM trial, I am looking for growers who would have planted a commercial field of a processing variety with seed between 1.5 and 3.0% PVY at planting. We are doing a small trial looking at the potential for mechanical PVY spread in wheel tracks.  If you have a field that might fit these criteria, please give me a call or send me an email.  I would like to inspect fields this week for this trial.
  • For a Living Labs/AIM trial, I am looking for growers in Kensington North/Dunk-Wilmot/Souris watershed areas that would be interested in planting some winter barley as a cover crop following potatoes to compare against planting spring barley next April/May.  I have a line on getting some winter barley seed and the project has some funding to help cover some of your seeding costs.  Again, please give me a call if interested and want to know more.  I need to get growers lined up for this project soon so that I can get enough seed ordered.
  • Any growers interested in doing Fall Hilling this August/September in advance of potatoes next year…I’m looking for some more fields to continue our AIM research into use of Fall Hilling.  If you’d like to know more and want to discuss how we can cooperate, please give me a shout!

As always, feel free to reach out if you have questions/comments.  Fingers crossed for some more rain this weekend!