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Flashback Friday: Night Spraying Fungicides 

Today for Flashback Friday, we will look back at the Night Spraying Fungicides project that Farming Smarter worked on from 2013-2015 (Crazy to think that was five years ago now!)  

The Night Spraying Fungicides project used small plot research trials to evaluate differences in fungicide efficacy and crop tolerance. Three foliar application timings (day 12-2pm, night 12-1am, early morning 4-5am) were assessed using three commercially available fungicides per crop in barley, wheat, canola and peas. 

We wanted to see if spraying at night influenced fungicide efficacy and understand the linkages between environmental conditions, quantify potential yield effect, quality and return on investments resulting from fungicide applications. 

Our amazing researchers in Brooks, Lethbridge, Lacombe and at SARDA Ag Research used handheld sprayers equipped with two-meter booms, CO2 propellant and low drift nozzles to minimize drift. Fungicide labels informed the spray rates and other considerations. Nozzles were spaced 50 cm apart and held 50 cm above the crop canopy. Plot dimensions, number of rows, row spacing etc. were adjusted to accommodate different seeding and spraying equipment. 

“If we have a better understanding of which herbicides work better under different conditions, we might be able to come up with a schedule that will maximize our efficacies,” said Ken Coles, Farming Smarter Executive Director commented in 2014. 

All this research resulted in fungal disease severity remaining low for all crops and across all locations during the 3-year study period. Crop yields were not affected by these fungicides statistically. This means that under low levels of disease conditions, producers could avoid using fungicides without losing any yield potential while saving time, financial resources and the environment. In addition to this, Twinline, Prosaro, Quadris and Prixor were most effective fungicides for barley, wheat, canola and peas, respectively. For wheat, no application timing seemed clearly effective.  

Now for the statical results. Barley, day time was the least effective application timing at all locations. Dawn applications at Brooks were most effective (56% of the instances) for producing higher yields compared to day and night times that both scored at 44%. Night time application was most effective at Lethbridge at (67% of the instances) compared to day and dawn timings (scoring 50% each). Night applications also scored higher yields at Lacombe (83% of the instances) followed by the dawn time (67%) and day time (33%). For canola, day time application was most frequently effective at Lethbridge and Brooks (78% and 67%, respectively). Finally, dawn time and nighttime applications were effective for peas. 

After throwing a bunch of numbers and statistics at you, you might be asking yourself “what would we recommend for you in the future. Our study showed that crops are not likely to respond to fungicide applications under low disease pressures and will maintain yield potential close to the pre-disease level.  

Therefore, producers could avoid unnecessary fungicide expenses under low disease severity without facing the risk of losing any yields while saving time, financial resources and the environment. These results agree with several other researchers who recommend using fungicides only when damage to crop is critical and significant yield loss potential is eminent. In general, our study results suggest that fungicides applied during the day, night or dawn time would be similarly effective on barley, wheat and canola, with some advantage of dawn or nighttime applications for peas. However, because of low disease pressure, the study could not maximize the differences between treatments. Further research might verify these results. In conclusion, time of day counts when it comes to spraying for weeds and diseases.  

 For more information and the full final report, videos and more on this project, click here