Pulse School: It’s time to get rolling

(Kara Oosterhuis/RealAgriculture)

Before any crops go in the ground, many producers are already thinking, “How can I make my harvest go smoothly?”

When it comes to growing pulse crops — especially peas and lentils — one of the ways you can get ahead is by land rolling.

This is done to ensure uniformity in the field, by flattening out the seed furrows and pressing down any rocks or dirt clumps that may be in the field. This is necessary when you are dealing with crops that have pods so close to the ground, as the combine header will mainly be flat on the ground come harvest, explains Bethany Wyatt, senior technical service specialist with BASF, in this Pulse School episode.

However, it’s not just a matter of getting out and rolling your peas and lentils whenever you get a chance — timing and field conditions are also vital to ensure you aren’t causing any damage to the crop.

“Ideally, following the roller behind the seeder would honestly be the best bet. Getting it done before the crop comes up is going to be your best option,” Wyatt explains.

If conditions don’t allow it at planting, rolling can still be done after the crop has emerged. “There is a specific timeline that you still should stay in. When it comes to lentils, you want to get it done before that five to seven node stage, and with peas, you would want to get it done before that three to five node stage. If you can get it done before that crop is up, that’s going to be the best timing for sure.” (Story continues below video)

If you wait to roll land after that early plant growth stage, plants are going to be bigger, increasing the risk of breakage or yield loss. It’s also important to note soil conditions — as rolling too-wet or too-dry soil can have negative impacts.

“You don’t want to go when it’s too wet, because that will only lead to compaction. So not only is that going to cause crusting, and then it will make it a lot more difficult for the crop to emerge, but additionally, with compaction in pulses, we know that any time we have compaction, it can lead to increased root rot in peas and lentils,” says Wyatt. “Additionally, we don’t want to do it when it’s too dry, or on really light sandy land, because that can increase the risk of erosion.”

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