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Canola Season-long Guidelines

Success with a Golden Opportunity

Important guidelines to follow in order to produce a successful canola crop, prior to planting through to storing your harvested crop.

PRE-PLANTING

  • Seed Selection
    – Markets play a central role in a producer’s hybrid choices. Producers must choose the canola hybrid for the market they wish to enter as well as the specific region where it will be planted.
    – Your local Nuseed sales representatives are an excellent source of information and guidance: they know the hybrids they sell, the markets they can be used for and the regions they are suited for.
  • Confirm Seed Selection
    – Before purchasing seed, confirm seed selection with the processor or contract.
  • Rotation
    – A three-year rotation is recommended to reduce disease and weed pressure.
    – No single crop rotation will suit all circumstances. The choice of which crops to grow, and in what sequence, depends to a large extent on the soil and climatic conditions and management skills.
  • Fertilization
    – Fertilize for realistic targets based on geography, soil type and annual rainfall. Fertilization timing and method is based on farming practices and may vary from region to region.
    – Canola generally needs nitrogen, phosphorus and Sulphur fertilizer each year. A small percentage of fields will also benefit from a potassium application.
  • Seedbed
    – A good seedbed will:  (1) supply enough moisture for germination and seedling establishment, (2) provide adequate warmth and aeration, (3) have minimal physical resistance for the seedlings to emerge, (4) be relatively free of weeds and disease, (5) offer some resistance to erosion.

 

PLANTING

  • Germination/Emergence
    – Factors such as soil moisture, soil temperature, fertilizer toxicity, seeding speed, seeding depth, seed placement, seed-topsoil contact, seed vigor, seedling disease and dormancy can affect germination and emergence.
  • Planter Maintenance
    – For drills with independently mounted opener units: check that opener tips are in good shape, packer wheels are properly inflated, depth settings are the same for each unit, all tires are properly inflated, and frame height is in line with specifications in the operator’s manual.
    – For drills with openers on a fixed frame: front-to-back and side-to-side leveling of the frame is key. Tire pressure, hydraulic cylinder seepage, inner wing down pressure, bent shanks, worn discs and inconsistencies in opener wear are also important inspection points.
  • Seeding Rate
    – Seeding rates should be adequate to achieve 50-80 plants per square metre (approximately five to eight plants per square foot). Yield potential tends to drop off with fewer than 30-40 plants per square metre (three to four plants per square foot).
    – Seeding rates should be adjusted based on target plant density (desired plants per square foot or per square metre) and thousand seed weight. This will ensure that target plant populations can be achieved.
  • Seeding Depth
    – For seeding, use a tillage tool that can consistently place canola at a ½” to 1” depth, cutting through residue and placing seed into soil with proper coverage and adequate packing to ensure good seed-topsoil contact.
  • Planting Speed
    – Each seeding tool has a different ideal speed for consistent placement. And soil type, residue cover and moisture will mean different ideal speeds from field to field and year to year. Every field could be handled differently to find a balance between placement and speed.

 

IN-SEASON

  • Weed Control
    – Early weed control. A combination of pre-seed weed control and one in-crop application before the four-leaf stage of the crop is often enough. Canola that gets off to a good start with weed competition reduced early in the season rarely sees an economic benefit to a second in-crop application of herbicide.
  • Disease Control
    – Canola health can have a huge impact on canola yield and longevity, so effective scouting strategies, proper identification and accurate assessment of diseases is crucial to successful canola crops.
    – Canola diseases such as blackleg, clubroot, sclerotinia stem rot, alternaria, aster yellows, root rot, seedling disease complex and verticillium stripe (amongst others) should be understood in order to be properly managed for a healthy, productive canola crop.
  • Insect Control
    – A variety of pests and insects can have a significant impact on canola production. Since this impact can vary between locations, conditions and years, effective scouting strategies at the correct time, proper damage assessments and accurate economic threshold utilization will help you manage insects throughout the growing season for a successful canola crop.
    – Some of the main pests to scout for include flea beetles (shortly after emergence), cut worms (early growth stages) and worm species such as Bertha Armyworm and Diamondback Moth (flowering through podding). An economic threshold is the level of infestation (pest insect density) at which lost yield (ex. due to feeding/insect pest damage) exceeds the cost of the chemical and its application.

HARVEST & POST-HARVEST

  • Swathing or straight cutting?
    – Straight cutting can offer both benefits and drawbacks, depending on each grower’s operation. It can be used as a tool to manage logistics at harvest, reduce labor, time and equipment requirements, and capture more yield, while it can also slow down the harvest operation and require an additional in‑crop application.
    – If you decide to swath, for optimal canola yield and quality, time swathing to at least 60% seed color change (SCC) on the main stem of the plant.
  • Equipment
    – Research conducted by Prairie Agricultural Machinery Institute concluded that all headers tested could be used to successfully straight cut. While there were differences in ease of operation and small differences in loss, the largest predictor of loss along the header was the degree of shatter tolerance in the variety.
    – The characteristics of a standing crop can be distinctly different from that of a windrowed crop. As a result, combine settings may be quite different in each situation. For example, the cleaning system may be the limiting factor in a dry, swathed crop, but the rotor is more likely to be the limiting factor in a straight cut crop.
  • Grain Storage
    – Canola seeds have high oil content, so they can be more volatile in storage than the other grains grown. As a result, extra care must be taken to properly condition it in order to maintain its quality.
    – Condition canola to 8% moisture content and less than 60 degrees Fahrenheit as soon as possible after harvest, for safe long-term storage.
    – Monitor storage facilities closely within the first six weeks after harvest when respiration can be high. Regular monitoring should occur throughout the winter.