Posts Tagged ‘hail’

Issues of the week

Thursday, August 18th, 2011

From Canola Council of Canada

Lygus populations continue to be high and exceed thresholds in parts of Alberta and Manitoba. Many young nymphs are being found and crops are nearing the end of the susceptible stage so management decisions are being made on a field-by-field basis. Pay attention to pre-harvest intervals (time between application and cutting) this late in the growing season. Once a crop is within 7 days of being swathed, no insecticides can be applied. Click here for more information on product pre-harvest intervals.

Hail events throughout the growing season in parts of Alberta and northwestern Saskatchewan have resulted in significant regrowth as fields recover. Many fields now have two or three distinct stages (e.g. some plants beginning to show signs of seed colour change while others are still in full flower) making time-to-swath decisions tricky. No blanket recommendation can be given and growers will have to evaluate on a field-by-field basis.

As we pass the middle of August, the length of frost free days remaining in the growing season comes to mind. Late crops and late stages within fields are being assessed for production potential to help with management decisions, such as insect control and swath timing.

Crop and weather update

Monday, July 11th, 2011

From Canola Council of Canada

Peace: Weather has been showery and cool, with temperatures rarely over 20 C. Wind is helping to dry out saturated fields. The north region has still not received meaningful precipitation. Most crops are at early bolt and bud stages.

Alberta: Crop is rapidly advancing with warm weather and good moisture. Spotty hail across the central region. Crop stage is anywhere from 2-leaf to 30% bloom across region. Alberta crop report.

Saskatchewan: Much needed heat has arrived. Scattered showers covered the province, with some flooding damage in western areas in addition to what had already occurred in the east. Canola staging ranges from 3-4 leaf to 40% flower. Saskatchewan crop report.

Manitoba: Rainfall this week as anywhere from zero to 1.5”, and hail hit some regions. Late seeded canola is at the cotyledon stage and the earliest is just flowering. The eastern side, in general, is further along than the west side. Manitoba crop report.

Hail Season Approaches

Thursday, June 16th, 2011

From Agri-News

Alberta gets more hail than anywhere else in Canada, with most hailstorms forming over the foothills. The three key ingredients for hailstorms are soil moisture, surface heating, and a triggering mechanism, such as an approaching weather system or a dry breeze that flows down from the mountains, clashing with moisture over the foothills to trigger a storm.
High soil moisture across much of Alberta increases the risk of hail. With crops finally in the ground and another hail season fast approaching, farmers are hoping speculation that 2011 could be an active hail year for Alberta proves to be wrong.

“A lot of farmers have been telling me they’re concerned this could be a big hail year because of the extra moisture we’ve had across the province this spring once all the snow melted and it rained on fields that hadn’t dried out from last year,” says Brian Tainsh, Provincial Adjusting Manager with Agriculture Financial Services Corporation (AFSC), the Crown Corporation that administers crop and hail insurance in Alberta on behalf of the provincial and federal governments.

Soil moisture is especially high across southern Alberta and along the foothills west of Highway 2, from Drayton Valley down to the U.S. border. “Experience has shown when there’s this much moisture lying around, you can often wind-up with a fair bit of hail,” says Tainsh.

Geoff Strong, a meteorologist and adjunct professor at the University of Alberta who studies thunderstorms and hail formation across the province, agrees that increased moisture on the ground increases the risk of hail. “With the soil moisture we have in many parts of the province, I think we’ll see some fairly active hailstorms throughout the summer,” says Strong, explaining the more saturated the soil becomes, the more humidity that grain crops, soggy fields, and other vegetation release into the air, feeding hail-producing thunderstorms. “I expect we’ll see the most hail activity in central and southern Alberta where it’s the wettest, and less in regions that are drier. Of course, the more it rains in any area of the province, the more the hail risk increases.”

With soil moisture high along the foothills in early June, from Drayton Valley down to the U.S. border, that extra moisture could easily produce hailstorms in the coming weeks that move easterly across central, southern and northeastern Alberta – intensifying as they pick up more moisture over the crop zones, explains Strong.

Last summer proved that even cool, wet weather can produce large amounts of hail. Hailstorms blanketed much of Alberta with crop damage reported in almost every part of the province due to frequent rain throughout the growing season. AFSC paid out more than $164 million in hail claims. Even the Peace region was hit by a few hailstorms, despite dry conditions.

“We’re hiring 10 more adjusters than last year, for a total adjusting force of about 140 people. They’re all equipped with GPS units and laptops, so they can file claims right from the field – making the process as efficient as possible so farmers can get paid quickly,” says Tainsh.

A large number of producers purchased hail insurance online last year – more than 10 per cent of all Straight Hail policies. “This will only be the second year that we’ve offered the online option. We’re expecting a lot of repeat and first-time users because of the two percent premium discount and the flexibility of having access to hail protection day or night, without having to drive into town.”

AFSC Straight Hail insurance is available at any time once crops emerge, and takes effect the next day at noon after a policy is written. For more information about hail coverage, producers can contact their nearest AFSC office, hail agent, or call the AFSC Call Centre at 1-877-899-AFSC (2372).

Did you walk your fields today? - Part 2

Thursday, June 9th, 2011

From Canola Council of Canada

Bald patches. Blank areas in the field can result from dry seedbeds, heavy winds, drowned plants, seed rots, cutworms and other insects, and from gophers.

Unthrifty, yellow or malformed plants. Unhealthy-looking plants can result from seedling diseases, herbicide carryover, herbicide burn, high rates of seed-placed fertilizer, fertilizer deficiency, low vigor and deep seeding, to name a few. Malformed plants can result from herbicide injury or disease, but possibly other factors.

Damaged plants. Environmental stress such as frost or hail are possible reasons. Look for insects, particularly flea beetles and cutworms, but also wireworms and early grasshoppers. Even if you don’t see obvious feeding on leaves, look under the leaves and on stems. If flea beetles have moved down the plant due to rain or wind, they can actually do more damage. Severing a stem is far worse than 25% damage on the leaf. Check leaves for blackleg lesions.

While doing the above ground scan, look at the weeds. What type, size and number do you see? This will help determine whether another spray is warranted and what tank mix and rate to use.

After the above-ground assessment, get a trowel and bucket and start digging around damaged plants. Look for cutworms and wireworms in the top 4″ of soil. Look at the roots for signs of insect feeding or disease damage. Chomped roots are usually insect damage. Mushy or thin wiry roots and stems are often the result of seedling disease.

Thin stands need extra protection

The key with a thin stand is to do what it takes to protect those plants. A stand needs a minimum of 4-5 plants per square foot to reach its yield potential. For a canola field at or below that plant population, consider lowering the action thresholds for insect, weed and disease management all season long.

It helps to keep a scouting notebook and jot down all observations. Even if you see nothing of concern, early scouting gives you a baseline for crop emergence and condition of the stand. Then you’ll know for sure something is wrong if the crop doesn’t look as healthy the next time you scout.

Problems can escalate quickly this time of year and cause irreparable damage if not addressed early. Scouting alerts you to these problems. And while the cause and solution may not always be obvious, this insight motivates you to get help and make an informed decision on the most economic course of action.

Visit for more canola agronomy information.

Harvest tips for damaged canola

Wednesday, September 1st, 2010

September 1, 2010

Sclerotinia infection, late-season hail and frost threats have growers wondering whether to swath early. Take time to make an informed decision.

Many canola fields are still a week away from 50% to 60% seed colour change — the ideal swathing stage — but damage from sclerotinia, hail or frost has some growers eager to get he crop cut. Early action is not usually the best for overall crop yield and quality. Step 1 before taking any action is to assess the level of damage.


In the case of sclerotinia stem rot, 2% of plants damaged can look like a lot from the road. But damage at these low levels is not enough to alter harvest plans. Growers are encouraged to swath as they normally would.

The key with sclerotinia infection is to determine where most of the yield will come from. If healthy plants will provide the most yield, then make harvest decisions that favour those healthy plants. Swathing at 50% to 60% seed-colour change is optimum for yield and quality.

If infected plants account for most of the yield potential, then swathing at 30% seed colour change may be more appropriate — as long as seeds in pods on branches and upper main stems are firm. Swathing early limits shelling of pods that are diseased but contain healthy seed. Sclerotinia fungus may continue to grow on swathed canola if conditions are wet, but seeds that have reached the firm green stage or later should still mature.

When swath-rolling diseased canola, do it lightly to tuck swath edges into the stubble. Light rolling limits pod shatter and reduces the spread of sclerotinia, which tends to move faster in compact swaths. If crop is heavily diseased, it may be preferable to avoid swath rolling altogether, particularly if the swath is heavy enough to settle into the stubble and does not appear at high risk for wind damage. Swath in the direction of prevailing winds.  


Hail tends to damage top pods more than bottom pods. Since top pods are at later stages and typically have lower yield potential, don’t cut early to save these pods if seeds in these pods are still watery. Do what’s best for undamaged lower pods. That means swathing at 50% to 60% seed colour change.

An exception: If seeds in bruised top pods are firm when rolled between thumb and forefinger, then swathing immediately may save these top pods from shelling out. Seeds lower in the plant should be more advanced and also suitable for swathing.


Growers have two swath decision scenarios when it comes to frost:

  1. Should a grower swath canola when frost is in the forecast? 2) Should a grower swath immediately after a frost?
  2. Swathing canola in anticipation of frost only works when seeds are firm not watery, and when the swath has 3 good drying days before frost hits. This gives seed time to dry to below 20% moisture. At that point, frost damage to the seed will be minimal.

If light frost occurs before 3 good drying days, there is not enough time to have seed colour change. Frost can stop de-greening enzymes and lock in high green counts. Green seed levels can still be reduced after the frost event — but only if there’s enough time before the next frost and if there’s adequate moisture to rehydrate the seed.

When canola is fairly green and frost risk is only slight, there is more upside to leaving the crop standing. Swathing too early to avoid the risk of frost can often translate into yield and quality losses.

When to swath after a frost is more complicated. Assess fields one to 3 days after the frost, then make the harvest decision. Here are 4 situations and decision-making tips for each:

50% of the field has moderate to severe damage.
Yield and quality will be significantly reduced. With severe damage, the canopy turns white, pods have a bleached and shrunken appearance, and seeds shrivel and turn white. If the remaining 50% of the field has light to minimal damage, swathing too early may further reduce yield and grade. Swathing when plants with minimal damage reach 50% to 60% seed colour change can allow the intact seed to continue to change colour and fill, improving both grade and yield. Anything severely damaged will likely shell out or be separated with the chaff or dockage.

More than 50-60% severely damaged. The crop will shell so it is best to swath to protect any viable seeds. Quality is likely to be poor anyway, so it is more important to protect as much yield as possible. If the grower decides to swath right away, the field in question should be one of the last fields combined to allow as much time as possible for green seed clearing.

Light to moderate damage in portions or throughout the field. Leave this for swathing at the proper stage. With moderate damage, pods will have white speckling on the outside and some seeds will turn brown and shrivel. However, pods remain reasonably intact and pliable and some seed remains green and turgid. Swathing when healthy seed is at 50% to 60% seed colour change gives healthy seed time to reach optimum yield and quality. Damaged seed will shrivel and blow out of the combine with the chaff or ending up as dockage. With moderate frost damage, growers will want to monitor the crop more closely than with other frost damage. If pods desiccate, they are prone to shattering, so consider swathing the whole field or just the affected areas if shattering losses could exceed gains from leaving the crop an extra day or two.

Some light damage in portions or throughout the field. Leave the crop and swath at the proper stage based on seed colour change of the healthy seed. Light damage may cause some seeds to turn “shoe polish” brown, but pods and most seeds generally remain intact and turgid. Swathing immediately after a light frost may result in higher economic and yield losses than if the crop were left alone.

For photos of severe, moderate and light frost damage, click here to download the Canola Council of Canada factsheet, “Early fall frost. Now what?”


For more information, contact a Canola Council of Canada agronomy specialist in your region: 

Doug Moisey, North East and East Central Alberta, 780-645-9205
Troy Prosofsky, Southern Alberta, 403-332-1412
John Mayko, West Central Alberta, 780-764-2593
Erin Brock, Peace Region, 780-568-3326
Jim Bessel, North Central and North Eastern Saskatchewan, 306-373-6771
Tiffany Martinka, Eastern Saskatchewan, 306-231-3663
Clint Jurke, Western Saskatchewan, 306-821-2935 
Derwyn Hammond, Manitoba Region, 204-729-9011

This media release is supported regionally by:
Alberta Canola Producers Commission; SaskCanola; Manitoba Canola Growers Association; Canola Council of Canada; Peace River Agriculture Development Fund; B.C. Ministry of Agriculture & Lands.