Canola School: Hula hooping through cotyledon emergence

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Many fields in Western Canada are starting to see the emergence of canola cotyledons, making it prime time to start scouting, and assessing stand establishment.

In this Canola School, Autumn Barnes, agronomy specialist with the Canola Council of Canada, says her favourite trick for assessing stand establishment is to use her bright yellow hula hoop.

“Usually, I try to walk 20 to 50 steps, and then I toss the hula hoop. I really like this because when you toss it, it falls wherever it falls. So you won’t be drawn to a specific area,” says Barnes, adding she is often drawn to bad spots when she isn’t using the tool. “If we only look to the areas that are bad, we don’t really get a representation of what the whole field looks like. ”

Once Barnes’ 1/4 square metre hula hoop is tossed into a spot, she counts seedlings, multiplies by four and divides by ten to find the number of plants per square foot.

“What we would then do is plug those numbers back into the canola emergence tool and figure out what our emergence is – so what percentage of the seed we planted turned into successful plants.”

It’s also important when scouting the field, to get more than one sample.

“It’s tough when you have lots of acres to cover, but it is imperative you get more than one sample,” explains Barnes. “It’s not always realistic to hit the five samples per field that we are recommending, but we do encourage you to get as close to that as possible, to ensure you are getting an accurate representation. The more you can scout, the better.”

Barnes notes that although it is often said to wait until the two- to four-leaf stage to count plants, it’s still a really good idea at this time of the year to get out to the field and see what’s coming up.

“If it looks like we’re getting only a 20 per cent emergence, maybe we’re just really dry. Maybe we haven’t had enough rain to germinate those seedlings. However, maybe there is something else going on. Maybe there’s cutworm really aggressive in a field and they are taking out some of those seedlings. So it’s kind of a way to get an idea of any things that you need to be worried about, or even areas that you did really well in, because that’s important to acknowledge too.”

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