|Yellow Grass, Saskatchewan|
-by Lorne McClinton
For Pulse Crop Monitor
Randy Moon says lentils are the most important crop on his 6200 acre farm near Riceton, Saskatchewan. "They are my main cash flow," says Moon. "and cash flow was the main reason I started growing lentils about 10 years ago. Back then you could probably get about 25 cents a pound for them. I've grown Laird lentils right from the start and I average 24 bushels or about 1440 lbs per acre. They are a good way to increase income and improve the bottom line."
Moon says lentils also work well in his rotation. "They fix some nitrogen and I can grow a heck of a durum crop the following year. My durum crop is always a lot better following a lentil crop compared to durum on durum stubble. I probably gain an additional 10 bushels an acre.
"At first I grew lentils every second year. Then I went to every third year and now because anthracnose is a problem, I'm thinking every fourth year would be good- lentils, flax, durum and then back to lentils again."
Moon wasn't always convinced that lentils were going to work on his farm. "The first time I grew lentils I got badly burned," he says. "It was a big time wreck, I swore I would never grow them again. I grew a beautiful crop but they just didn't pod. At harvest I fought with them. I sprayed them with Reglone by air and straight cut them. They were still green underneath and wouldn't cut properly. It was a nightmare. I was there for days trying to do that 180 acres. I think they went eight bushels or something like that. Now I swath and wait until they dry before I thresh them."
Moon has some advice for first time lentil growers: "Start small and inoculate them very well. Inoculation is even more crucial than fertilizer. I use both liquid and peat and now I'm thinking about granular. I use mainly phosphate fertilizer and a little sulfur too. I used to add 25 - 30 lbs of nitrogen but I stopped that; I was growing all plant.
"I blend my fertilizer now, 50% 20-5-0-0-24 and 50% 12-5100 to give me 16-25- 0-12 ," he says.
Moon also says producers might have to spray with Poast and Bravo and twice with Sencor. He says that cost can add up, but is also quick to point out that lentils improve his cash flow and his bottom line.