Fusarium Management starts in the Fall?

Fusarium Management starts in the Fall?

That's Right - what you do in the fall can be the first step in controlling fusarium in wheat

Soybean residue management can be a great starting point to controlling fusarium…

Tips on Successful Soybean Residue Management:

As some parts of the province have started harvesting soybeans, it is a good reminder that successfully establishing winter wheat starts with managing the previous crop residue. Residue management starts with the combine. A properly set combine is the greatest residue management asset for growers looking to keep wheat in the rotation.

The main reason for even residue distribution is to reduce the risk of hair-pinning during planting but more importantly, fusarium management. We are a ways away from worrying about fusarium head blight; however, successful fusarium management starts in the fall. When the previous crop residue is not spread evenly we start to worry about soil moisture levels. As a result, the crop does not emerge evenly purely based on the fact that there will be areas in the field with low moisture and areas of the field with high moisture based on residue distribution. A field that has uneven emerge will have varying heading times making it very difficult to properly time the field for effective FHB control.

Harvest efficiency is extremely important however, just because the front of the combine can handle a large header doesn’t mean the back end of the combine can. Keep an eye on spread pattern; we are looking for near 100% residue coverage for the cutting width of the head. Some combines do an excellent job spreading residue but if there is a strong cross wind, the spread pattern can become distorted. I know all fields are not situated perfectly, however consider changing the direction of harvest based on wind speed and direction.

Proper residue distribution has a lot to do with how the combine is set. Prior to harvest, it is a good idea to check the condition of knives on the chopper and stationary knife. Some combines tend to throw more residue to one side due to the rotor configuration. This will cause one side of the chopper knives to wear faster than the other side. Dull chopper/stationary knives will increase the power requirements thus slowing the chopper down resulting in unsatisfactory residue distribution and increasing fuel consumption. When setting the chopper, set it so soybean residue is approximately 2-4 inches long. It is simple physics, larger residue will throw further and easier than residue that has essentially been turned to powder. Wind will also have less of an effect on larger residue. In some scenarios and field conditions, a light vertical tillage pass may be necessary to help size and incorporate residue to create seedbed suitable to plant wheat into.

Safe harvest and happy wheat planting!

This picture outlines what kind of emergence issues can occur when residue management is not closely monitored

About the Author

Alex Zelem is a CCA-ON certified Agronomist with C&M Seeds. He farms in Huron County. Alex attended Ridgetown College and when he graduated attended Olds College in Alberta to gain a different perspective from Ontario. He has working in agriculture since 2013.