RealAg LIVE! with Mike Hilhorst of FCL on early season canola agronomy


We’re covering everything from cut worms to thousand kernel weights (and everything in between) when considering early season canola agronomy.

Mike Hilhorst, Grow Team advisor with Federated Cooperatives Limited out of Westaskiwin, Alta., joins us for today’s RealAg LIVE!

RealAg LIVE! streams every weekday at 3 pm E on Youtube, Facebook, and Twitter!


  • North-central Alberta saw a pretty rough season last year; sub-soil moisture is off to a good start
  • Canola is still heavy in the rotations!
  • Thousand kernel weight of canola seed, highly recommend looking at that; a 3 g TKW will be light, a 7 g TKW will be heavy; target for plant stand
  • Factor in mortality!
  • How deep can you seed canola if you’ve decided to chase moisture? Maybe 1.5 inches to 2 inches, but if you do get a rain, that wetting front takes so much longer to meet up with sub-soil moisture, and it’ll take that much longer for the seed to get up
  • Weak, spindly plants make great food for cutworms or wireworms
  • Residue? Managing that started last fall. Chopper and spreader tech has come a long way
  • Fertility? Wet or dry year? “A soil test is the fuel gauge in your truck”
  • Sulphur and residual nitrogen.
  • Soil pH in northern and central Alberta is verging on 5.0, which can be an issue
  • Temperature? Mike rather see 8 to 10 °C while seeding.
  • Flea beetles… earlier seeded canola seems to not withstand a flea beetle attack as well as later seeded canola
  • Rotation. We probably can’t stress rotation as a management tool enough.
  • Herbicide carryover. Keep good records. Keep those fields clean to get them started off on the right foot
  • Critical weed-free period: cotyledon to four-leaf says Mike. More competitive than corn but less competitive than, say barley.
  • Diseases: damping off, rhizoctonia, seedling blight. That goes back to seeding deep…
  • Seed treatments
  • Cutworms can be devastating. They seem to do better in sand or sandy-loam soils (easier for moths to lay their eggs)
  • Get out and scout!
  • Is it worth it to “revenge spray”
  • Speaking of scouting, it’s good to determine your plant stand establishment
  • In addition to diseases loving a heavy stand, insects will want to munch on it too
  • Avoiding bias. Having a large sample size is always a good thing, statistically speaking. Getting a range of data points from high and low spots, good and bad
  • We had to get around to it sometime: clubroot. Sanitation and rotation can go a long ways, but compliance needs to be there
  • “Plan the win and see what happens”

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