Canola School: Moving to Multiple N Applications for Canola


Dry conditions at seeding followed by plenty of rain left some canola growers in Western Canada wondering if their canola had enough nitrogen to reach its yield potential.

As a result, there was increased interest in top-dressing N on canola this growing season.

As Jack Payne, regional agronomist with Farmers Edge, explains in this Canola School episode from CanolaPalooza in Lacombe, the decision to apply a rescue treatment of N must be made early — it should be done before the crop starts bolting.

“When you’re looking at top-dressing, you have to make that decision fairly soon,” he says, noting canola’s largest uptake of N is in the first six to eight weeks of development.

You also have to keep in mind it’s not immediately available to the crop and could take 10-14 days to be taken up by the plant, he notes.

Ultimately, as canola yield targets have climbed from 40 to 70-plus bushels/acre, so have the nitrogen requirements for the crop, forcing growers to look at alternatives for applying N. As Payne explains, each bushel requires 2.8 to 3-plus pounds of N.

“If we look at a 70 bushel crop of canola, it’s going to require 200 pounds-plus of nitrogen to meet that yield,” he says. “We can’t put all that physical product through the air-seeder.”

That might mean more top-dressing in the future, or applying prior to seeding, either by broadcast or banding.

“We have to sometimes think outside the traditional one-pass system,” says Payne.

Related: Canola School: N Sensing Tech in the Palm of Your Hand

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