With the current downward market outlook leading into the 2014 growing season we are seeing a number of cereal and canola acres being converted to pulse acres. This transition is occurring due to the lower input costs associated with pulse crops, however, it is important to remember not to skimp on the necessary input requirements that pulses need to show a positive return on investment. Research that has been conducted by the Western Applied Research Center in Scott, Saskatchewan and various test sites throughout the province have found two options that resulted in the best return on investment. The research conducted in 2012 found that pulse crops that had a high seeding rate, seed treatment, granular inoculant and fungicide applied had the highest return on investment. The second highest return on investment in 2012 was the pulse crop that only had a high seeding rate. In 2013 the reverse occurred, the highest return on investment went to the crop with the high seeding rate and the second highest went to the crop that had a high seeding rate, seed treatment, granular inoculant and fungicide. This is interesting to note, because the markets were high in 2012 but considerably lower in 2013 and a positive return on investment was still found for these two input options in both years.
High or ideal seeding rates with pulse crops would be around the three bushel an acre mark. This high seeding rate will help the crop compete with any weed competition that is present until the in crop herbicide is applied. Seed treatment is also very beneficial in pulse crops especially on years where there is high moisture. Seed treatment will help control soil borne diseases that can affect seed germination and overall plant health. Granular inoculant should be applied at the recommended rate at the time of seeding. Granular inoculants help increase root mass and aid in the formation of nitrogen fixing root nodules. This is extremely important especially if no starter fertilizer is being placed with the pulse seed. Fungicide is an important input on years when disease pressure is high, which is usually in years when there are high levels of moisture and humidity. Fungicide will not necessarily increase your yield but it will “protect” your yield. This means that on years when there is high disease pressure fungicide is your “insurance” to protect the yield potential that is already there from the initial inputs you have put into the pulse crop.
When heading into the 2014 growing season it will be important to consider the necessary inputs for pulse crops that are going to lead to a positive return on investment. Contact your local Cavalier Agrow Agronomist to discuss input options and best practices for this upcoming season. Happy Seeding!
Carissa Watson – Business Agronomist