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Winter lentil survival put to test

Disappointing results despite high expectations.
As predicted by the Winter Crop Survival Model, the SuperCool winter lentil crop at Alameda, Sask. pulled through fine. Western Ag agronomist Edgar Hammermeister took the photo on the left on May 12. You can seed into stubble and follow all the recommendations, but if Ma Nature is having a bad winter, all you end up with is dead winter lentils. |

ALAMEDA, Sask. — SuperCool winter lentils were put to the test this winter, with three of four sites recording total kill; especially disappointing because this was supposed to be a seed increase year.

It is disappointing, but not surprising. The Winter Crop Survival Model predicted earlier that sites at Saskatoon, Riceton and Melita would not recover from the combination of low temperatures with low snowfall.

The model also predicted that survival at the seed increase site at Alameda, Sask., would be excellent, which it was as of early May, said Ken Greer of Western Ag. Greer is a major advocate of expanding the list of fall-seeded crops for the Prairies.

“The Saskatoon site was marginal because of inadequate snow and seeding into chem fallow. We didn’t expect it to survive. Lentils at the Riceton, Sask., site died, according to the prediction.

“Melita, Man., was an anomaly. The model said it should survive, but it didn’t. We tweaked two factors, and the model turned out to be right. We had planted too deep and too late, so that batch was a write off.

“Edgar Hammermeister’s site at Alameda was going to do well according to the model, and it did. So now we have a limited amount of seed for increase this fall. Next year, we need a big enough volume of seed so the processors can test it. It has to fit into their stream of regular cooking lentils. If that works out, then we proceed toward the registration process.”

He said registration will be complicated because there is no existing trial for winter pulses and no comparison data.

“It’s truly a chicken and egg riddle. There are all kinds of spring pulse trials, but not even one for a winter pulse. And in order to get any kind of crop registered, you have to prove it’s better than an existing variety.”