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Published February 01, 2011, 09:15 AM

Can Pod Ceal help cut pod-type harvest risks?

FARGO, N.D. — It may not be a silver bullet, but promoters of a product called Pod Ceal say they have a product may help dry bean, peas and lentils and canola growers cope with wet harvest conditions — either rain or dew.

By: Mikkel Pates, Agweek

FARGO, N.D. — It may not be a silver bullet, but promoters of a product called Pod Ceal say they have a product may help dry bean, peas and lentils and canola growers cope with wet harvest conditions — either rain or dew.

Andy Steinberger of Gardner, N.D., is U.S. sales manager for BrettYoung. BrettYoung is responsible for promoting Pod Ceal in the region. BrettYoung is a trademark of Brett-Young Seeds Ltd. of Winnipeg, Manitoba, independently owned, agricultural input supplier. It cleans, blends and packages grass seed, as well as inoculants for canola in the United States. Among other things, Pod Ceal is a trademark of Miller Chemical Fertilizer Corp. of Hanover, Pa., which manufacturers the product. The product is a polymer coating, which binds with the natural waxy coating of a pod. It is a “terpene,” meaning that it is an oil, extracted from pine.

Shifting focus

Steinberger was one of the exhibitors at the Bean Day event, operated by the Northarvest Bean Growers Association. Pod Ceal marketing started in Canada only, primarily in Manitoba and Saskatchewan The focus has shifted beyond canola into peas, lentils and edible beans.

“As your pods are green, and even yellow, they naturally repel water,” he says. “But as it dries, it becomes crunchy and water wicks in and out. Pod Ceal adds another layer to the natural layer. As your pods are changing from dark green to light green or yellow, you get about a 40 percent color change, that’s when you’d like to apply it.”

In the United States, it was used starting in 2009, although promotion that year started at the end of July. Most of it went on field pea acres, mostly in western North Dakota and eastern Montana.

In 2010, the company did about twice the number of acres, and BrettYoung was “happy with where we were” but acknowledges there is “lots of room to grow.” Much of it is now in North Dakota, Montana and Minnesota. Steinberger declines to say how many acres are involved.

A harvest-management tool

In 2011, Steinberger expects the product to be more important, especially with edible beans. He says people are getting more into direct-combine harvesting and larger farms have more acres to cover. Farmers need to protect from color and staining problems. The company’s trials have been very variable — little when harvest conditions are good, but up to 200 to 300 pounds per acre on beans when there is when high moisture conditions.

There was an earlier product called “Spodman,” which housed the same active ingredient, cyclohexane. Pod Ceal offers 40-day longevity, while Spodman had two-week life. The product deteriorates over time, especially under sunlight.

“We’ve learned a lot about it,” Steinberger says. “The product doesn’t ‘super-glue’ your pods or makes them tornado- or hail-proof, but it is a harvest management tool. If you have substantial acres to harvest, we talk about using Pod Ceal on the ‘back half’ or two-thirds of your acres, when you could get more exposure to weather events.”

He says the product is especially helpful if the producer expects a crop to stand several days once it’s ready to harvest.

Steinberger says the $10-per-acre cost of the product itself should be thought of as a kind of insurance policy. Application can be by ground or air. Some people put it in with a desiccant.

“It’s an odds thing,” he says. “If you have ideal harvest condition, you’ll probably see minimal to no response, although the last time I’ve seen an ideal harvest, I can’t remember.”

The product is promoted to block water intrusion, while letting internal moisture out — something akin to certain clothing treatments. The company offers NMR (nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy) to show the effect of Pod Ceal on moisture absorption in canola pods. The slides compare an untreated and a treated pod, two hours after soaking. The water in the untreated pod is clearly visible, indicating a significantly greater level of water absorption. Steinberger says the concept should be roughly the same in dry beans and other crops.

“There’s less expansion and contraction of the pod so you keep natural pod integrity,” he says. “If you get a light rain on your crop in the fall, the pod isn’t soaking up that moisture, so you can re-enter the field more quickly. In the case of green peas and edible beans, you can reduce the staining and discoloration” which cause marketing problems.

Information: 701-430-1554 or www.brettyoung.ca.

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