Pulse School: Deciding whether to desiccate

(Kara Oosterhuis/RealAgriculture)

As the hot, dry weather continues across much of the prairies, many growers are wondering “do I even need to desiccate my pulse crops?”

It’s not always easy to know what the benefits of desiccation are (or aren’t) in your peas and lentils, and in this Pulse School episode, Sherrilyn Phelps, agronomy specialist with Saskatchewan Pulse Growers, gives us some insight on how to approach harvest management.

“So there are two things to consider: one is the evenness of the field itself. So if it emerged well and all of the plants are looking very similar in terms of stages of development, that’s one thing. If you are considering letting the crop dry down on its own, you need to keep in mind that it should be fairly even in order for that to happen,” shares Phelps. “The other thing to consider is the weed pressure. If you have a lot of weeds in the field and the field is fairly dirty then they are not going to be drying down the same time as the crop is, and in that case, desiccation would be important.”

The main benefit to desiccating your crop is that afterward, the crop will be even when it comes to moisture content, which makes harvest a lot easier.

“If you have varying maturity in there, or crops at different stages — say some areas came up later or just are growing differently, just staying green – then you are going to have patches in the field where they are still green, and you are going to have patches in the field where it’s ready to combine. So then it makes harvest difficult.”

Phelps adds using adequate water volumes is important. “In desiccation, the majority of them are contact herbicides so using good water volumes is key. With glyphosate, it’s not as imperative to have high water volumes. It will still be active under the lower water volumes, but it is a slower dry down.”

For more on making the decision to desiccate, check out our Pulse School video filmed at Ag in Motion in Langham, Saskatchewan:

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