Oct 24, 2014
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What Happened to the Canola Yields?

What Happened to the Canola Yields?

If there is a pattern developing in the 2012 harvest across Western Canada it would have to be the disappointing canola yields. Farmers have taken to Twitter to display there disappointment in the yields.  One of the common threads has been, “I have 50 bushel swaths and 25 bushel yields.”

With over twenty million acres of canola planted in Western Canada, there were high expectations of yellow profit across the west.  Many farmers will achieve average yields but some are being dealt a worse hand than average.



Troy Prosofsky, Agronomy Specialist Canola Council of Canada (Southern Alberta) made the following comments to me over the phone this afternoon:

Western Canada has had one of those years when everything seemed to hit us. We had insects (leaf hoppers producing aster yellows) and mother nature who turned off the tap and cranked the heat to us. All across the prairies we are seeing blanks on main stems which is caused by heat stress and insect feeding. Additionally, schlerotinia really caught many growers by surprise who decided to not apply a fungicide.  Even growers that applied a fungicide had levels of infection that hurt yield.

Some farmers have gotten away lucky with 45-50 bushels but those farmers seem to be few and far between.  Here are some comments when I asked about canola yields on twitter.

If you cannot see the below tweet click here

If you cannot see the below tweet click here

What has been your experience this year? Share your frustration or jubilation with us and other readers in the comment box below.  Did you get the yield you expected?  Were you pleasantly surprised or do you feel disappointed?

We thank you for sharing your thoughts.

About Shaun Haney

Avatar of Shaun Haney
Shaun grew up on a family seed farm in Southern Alberta. Haney Farms produces, conditions and retails wheat, barley, canola and corn seed. Shaun Haney is the founder of RealAgriculture.com.

13 comments

  1. Our dryland canola was well on its way to being a great crop and in fact looked every bit as good as the irrigation. It was holding up really well in the drought but the really severe heat took a lot of yield out of it. The night we were going to start combining a storm blew through quickly with a downpour and a lot of wind, destroying every second swath. In quite a short period of time it went from being above average to average to a below average crop. We had sprayed Proline and disease wasn’t a major problem and there was some insect damage, mainly CSW.

    The irrigated fields were both hailed, have Aster Yellows and also felt the affects of the heat near the end. I think the irrigation will be dissapppointing as well

  2. One thing that struck me this year is that there was tremendous biomass growth in the early season due to moist and cool conditions. Like Troy said, taps turned off and and got hot and I can’t remember a year with moredays over 30 which was hard on a cool season crop. Despite the heat, the humidity remained very high in the thick canopy with heavy dews that remained just about all day long creating a haven for desease and insects.

  3. There’s more to it than some farmers just got lucky and others didn’t. There were a lot of threats and yield robbers appearing this year, most were manageable with the right knowledge and timing, some weren’t. It’s safe to say that if the yield is a surprise only when it’s being measured in the combine, the situations causing the low yields were not even known about or managed for. That’s not about luck.

    For those who dont have a trained eye and access to good answers, or just dont have the time required to be in that field regularly, the cost of hiring a professional to be in that field regularly to spot the threats and opportunities is generally less than one bushel canola per acre. On a year like this, the guys who lost 20 bushels an acre because they weren’t even aware there was anything happening in their field, could have paid for that investment twenty times over.

  4. I farm in SE SK, and in all the years we have grown canola on this farm we have never seen a crop that looked this good and yielded this poorly. We expected an average crop due to the extreme heat in July, but we are far below average, seeing yields in the 22 bu/ac range so far. We received quite timely rains in July, which we thought would mitigate the effects of the heat. Our cereals were excellent and actually received less rain than the canola. Therefore, I believe heat damage is not the whole story.

    We and our neighbors did trials for sclerotinia and blackleg, and no significant differences were noted. We employ the services of an experienced Agri-Trend agronomist who kept close eye on any bugs all year. We fertilize our crops well and shoot for proper plant counts.

    For these reasons and others, I believe that Aster Yellows played a very significant role in our poor yields. In fact, it may be responsible for 50% or more of our yield loss. Therefore, I must disagree with the comment written by Chris Paterson above. These were yield losses that were unmanageable in a conventional manner. For 2012, I feel that Mother Nature must receive most of the blame.

    • Avatar of

      Thanks for the comments Jake. Canola definitely is the crop that had so much promise and has definitely not delivered they yields everyone wanted to take advantage of these great prices.

  5. We knew canola yields weren’t going to be great before we got in the combine, but I think your commentd are a little unfair Chris!

  6. Chris Paterson sounds like a crop consultant or chemical rep

  7. I pray all these stories of 50 bu swathes yielding 25 are false, because i only have the potential for 25 judging from the swath, would be extremely dissapointed if it only ran 15.

  8. Chris I wonder if all clients by the same agronomist yielded 20 bushels more than guys who didn’t use a proffesional eye.

  9. I just want to add that there are lots of disappointing yields on farms that used consultants too this year, lots of things like Asters that had no cure, but there should have been less surprises and a hopefully a few more things discovered early that could be controlled by knowing about them, and knowing what to do.

    I personally harvested my 45bu canola crop with a round baler a few years ago after telling the custom combiners to stop. The Berthas got me on a field far from home that was not being watched close enough. I know the feeling all too well. There was nobody in that area offering consulting services, but had there been, I would have known and been $50K further ahead today.

  10. I think Chris’ comments are also unfair. I understand that he is trying to promote his company, Agri-Trend but there were many people in our area that did have consultants (even Agri-Trend consultants!) and their yields were similar to those farmers without consultants. I definitely think that the heat stress played a significant roll in limiting canola yields. This was evidenced by the pod blasting. This is something that only Mother Nature can really plan for. We did a side by side off sclerotinia resistant canola and non-sclerotinia resistant canola. The sclerotinia counts were closer to 40% in the non-resistant and only 15% in the resistant. The yields, however, were within 1/2 a bushel of each other. In our area sclerotinia did well in the humid, hot days we had but when the humidity dropped the spread of infection dropped as well and the plants were not completely shut down due to disease. Sclerotinia had less of an impact on our crops than the heat stress.

  11. I feel for all the canola growes who were disappointed with there canola this year. What I can’t understand is the very good canola yeilds that our area 18 miles east of Camrose AB. had. We were in a pocket that missed most of the rains this summer. Our total rain for the growing season was around 7 inches. Our canola was rather short and missing a lot of pods in the middle. The poor land blasted very bad during that hot July spell. We did manage to get a 1 1/2 rain in the 3 week of July that caused the poor land to reflower. It caused those areas to be a extra two weeks late so we swathed as ripe as we could to alow those ares to mature. We were blessed with a av. yeild of 49 and that was with several quarters receiving some hail. All of our neighbours reported about the same experince in yeilds. Why our area got less than average rains but still very good yeilds is very strange compare to what most other areas that receided way better rainfall. One thing that was noted by many is that most of the farmers in this area swathed there canola way riper than what was seen in most other areas. Just a thought!

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