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Avoid herbicide residues when planting hybrid forages

Forage producers are pushing the boundaries in new hybrid forage production


November 19, 2007
By Bruce Barker

Topics

22aForage producers are pushing the boundaries in new hybrid forage production,
with annual crops such as forage sorghum, sorghum x sudangrass, and millet hybrids,
however, little research is available on how herbicide residues affect seed
germination. A few wrecks prompted Vandaele Seeds' retail manager Bob Vandaele
to develop a chart that will help growers avoid land with herbicide residues
that would harm the new hybrid forage crops.

"We knew there was an issue when we saw a few fields that had poor germination.
A good example is Rustler. The residue wipes out millet and sorghum in a hurry,"
says Vandaele, who along with brothers Cal, Mark, Chad and their father Vern
Vandaele run Vandaele Seeds at Medora, Manitoba.

Vandaele Seeds represents the Vanseed Hybrids brand in Canada, and is working
to evaluate hybrid millet, hybrid forage sorghum, hybrid sorghum x sudangrass,
and corn hybrids. They are testing US hybrids for adaptation in the Canadian
marketplace and have plots across western Canada.

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Vandaele is especially excited about the potential of the new sorghum hybrids.
"In the past, the old sorghum varieties were poor performers, but the new
hybrids look very promising. They can out-yield silage corn on half the moisture,
and input costs are about half of corn."

In 2002 Manitoba forage trials, one of the sorghum hybrids from Vanseed Hybrids
had the highest yield in the trial with an average of approximately 14 tonnes
per acre. The closest corn hybrid weighed in at 12.8 tonnes.

Vanseed Hybrids currently offers some unique genetics, including the Brown
Mid Rib (BMR) trait and the Photo-Period Sensitive (PPS) trait. The BMR trait
lowers the lignin content within the plant, which ultimately boosts the digestibility
of the forage. This trait produces extra weight gain in livestock with less
feed.

The PPS trait simply stops the plant from producing a seed head in a cooler
climate like western Canada and keeps the plant growing late in the season.
The varieties, which typically contain this trait, perform better in drought
conditions. Vanseed introduced a stacked trait variety in 2004, which contains
the Brown Mid Rib trait and the Photo-Period Sensitive trait.

Vandaele Seeds is currently setting up a dealer network across western Canada,
and now has 75 retailers across Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta. Despite
cold weather in 2004, which set back all warm season forages like corn and sorghum,
Vandaele is optimistic the research into the new hybrid forages will eventually
yield positive results for forage producers. "The current hybrids may not
work in the Peace River region, but we had sorghum hybrids that were six to
seven feet tall at Westlock in 2004. Considering the weather conditions in the
year, it did extremely well." Vandaele Seeds also has a dealer network
across North Dakota, and into parts of Minnesota and Montana where they have
marketed hybrid forages for several years with exceptional results.

On the other side of growing extremes, Vandaele cites a field of sorghum near
Virden, Manitoba that was 12 feet tall in 2003. "It was a hot year and
the sorghum did extremely well."

With results like those over the last few years, Vandaele says many producers
wanted to ensure that herbicide residues in the soil did not hurt germination.
In response to their queries, Vandaele developed his herbicide residue chart,
based on label recommendations and information from the herbicide company call
centres.

"We tried to develop guidelines for the most common herbicides since there
wasn't a lot of information out there specific to these new hybrids," says
Vandaele. "Based on the information from the herbicide companies, it is
the best information that we can use." -30-