Pulse School: Land rolling considerations in drought-stricken areas

(Kara Oosterhuis/RealAgriculture)

In ideal conditions, the recommendation is to roll pea acres shortly after seeding.

But what happens when a portion of the Prairie’s pulse growing acres are facing extreme drought?

Jack Payne, agronomy solutions manager with South Country Co-op Ltd, says some growers may opt to roll later — because if you roll right after the crop has been seeded, you can create conditions that open the field up to wind erosion risks.

“As you roll, you’re breaking up some of those soil aggregates, pulverizing the topsoil a bit. And if you haven’t got any crop emerged, and you get a windy day, you could have some drifting soil,” he explains.

However, if a producer waits until the peas are up and out of the ground, there are a few things that should be kept in mind, such as rolling right at emergence.

“If you’re rolling after the crop comes up, you want to have enough stem that is flexible,” Payne says. “When the plant is first coming out of the ground and is really short and stubby, if you roll, you might break off the top of the plant or the growing point. One recommendation is to wait until the two-to-three node stage, or four-to-six node stage, depending where you’re at.”

Another point to keep in mind is the time of day you are rolling, because of how flexible — or not — the plant is at certain times. As Payne explains, you don’t want to roll in the morning, because there’s a good chance the plant is brittle. And of course — don’t just hop in the tractor and roll the field; get out, and check to see what the crop is looking like.

“Do get out, and check, am I breaking stems off? If you’re doing more damage than good, that’s maybe not the right thing to do. Maybe you need to either wait for it to warm up even warmer, so that the plants are more supple. Or maybe you just say, what is it that I am gaining? What am I going to lose here, because if you do more damage than good, that’s not what you want either,” he explains.

“That’s no different than insect feeding damage, or frost, or anything like that. Because that’s really what you’re doing, is you’re creating an injury to the plant to the growing point. And yeah, the plant will recover, but what you’ve done is set it back. What if we’ve got some stressful growing conditions? Now the plant has to reset itself to recover the injury. And it’s taking more energy to repair the damage.”

Watch the full conversation between Jack Payne and RealAgriculture’s Kara Oosterhuis, below:

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