The Agronomists, Ep 19: Autumn Barnes and Stacie Yaremko on canola establishment


As we gear up for what could be an early seeding season in some areas of the Prairies, there’s still time to fine-tune the canola seeding and establishment strategy for the year ahead.

On this episode of The Agronomists, host Lyndsey Smith is joined by Autumn Barnes with the Canola Council of Canada, and Stacie Yaremko of Nutrien Ag Solutions, to discuss seeding rates, seeding depth, plant stand counts, in-furrow fertility rates and more.

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  • Autumn is in the Lethbridge area, where it’s quite dry, but she’s optimistic for a good season
  • Stacie is in the Peace Region of Alberta, where’s it’s still pretty white out
  • It’s early days, but that means there’s TIME TO PLAN
  • Fertility: anticipating a dry year (but a wrench can be thrown in that plan, especially if you’ve had a really wet spring like in the Peace). Start from a set of soil test results if you’ve got em, or do a spring soil sample once it dries up a bit before you get in the field
  • Seed-placed fertilizer, should it be dialled back if it’s going to be dry? Look at your nutrient levels, look at seed-bed utilization, keep an eye on it
  • Seed-bed utilization (go back to the episode with Jeff Schoenau, it was high tech)
  • Clip 1: Canola School: Thinking Differently About Stand Establishment
  • Can we cut seeding rates back and how far can we go? Are we still trying to pull back on rates? Five, six, seven, or eight plants per square foot, still ending up with good yield. Watch for a meta-analysis coming soon on this. With the modern herbicide tolerance and hybrids, 5-7 plants per square foot is a good balance between economics and risk.
  • Canola seed really is an investment; producers are really starting to treat canola like the valuable resource it is, pay attention to getting it off on the right foot, and tweaking according to seed size
  • As of 2020, 50 per cent of canola growers are doing stand counts, according to CCC.
  • Thousand kernel weights…
  • Can we increase yield by increasing plant population, i.e. more main stem pods equals higher yield? If there’s an issue with maturity, then you might want to be in that higher rate. Do a report card for it though, follow up and see how it did.
  • “An opportunity for growers to be precise with their agronomy”
  • Winter canola in the west; promising genetics for the northern U.S., don’t hold your breath
  • Spring canola in Ontario, swede midge struggles, perhaps some info coming out of AAFC Harro
  • Clip 2: Canola School: Should you chase moisture when seeding?
  • Is hybrid vigour of these more recent hybrids better than earlier hybrids for emergence? Can they handle being seeded down to two inches? What if you have to chase moisture?
  • If you don’t have a dutch auger, get one so you can figure out the depth of moisture. If there’s a light rain, will it meet up with the reserve soil moisture?
  • Pea/canola intercropping. Faba bean/canola intercropping.
  • In the Peace Region, calendar or conditions?
  • Canola won’t grow in the bag y’all. Ok, we’ve covered moisture, but what about the temperature of that soil? Cold and dry, and deep-seeded, more headaches than if it were in warm, dry, deep-seeded
  • Now the dreaded f-word(s): flea beetles. You can’t scout from the truck. Get out of the headlands. Bring a hoop so you can get some randomness into your flea beetle damage. 25 per cent is the point to “pull the trigger.” Get your hands on the new infographics from CCC to understand and get comfortable with the levels of damage
  • Clip 3: Canola School: How much seed is enough and how much is too much?
  • Getting a grip on germination, what was put in the ground versus what was harvested; an advanced practice says Stacie. What was your seedling mortality, with your conditions, and your machinery?
  • Do farmers overestimate how good of a job the drill is doing? If you’ve never counted your emergence, start at 50 to 60 per cent until you prove yourself otherwise
  • Herbicide carryover is common in the pulse world, but canola can fall victim to it too. Get to know your labels, know your chemistries. It’s not necessarily the winter moisture, it’s the in-season moisture that breaks a herbicide down
  • Agronomist survey:, or
  • How many years do you go back to sort out the fertility plan? Get as much info as you can!

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