Welcome to the very first episode of the Canola PODcast sponsored by InVigor® hybrid canola from BASF!
This episode is called “Shake it, rattle it, roll it” and features Canadian InVigor Lead Blaine Woycheshin, and long-time InVigor grower Nicolea Dow.
Why are we calling this episode “Shake it, rattle it, roll it”? Well, as Woycheshin explains, it all started with a Twitter hashtag.
Not long ago InVigor launched a Twitter campaign called #selltheswather, to promote the straight-cutting advantage of some canola lines. The hashtag caused quite a stir, with plenty of debate and discussion on why some of you farmers #kepttheswather.
The social media campaign definitely got people talking, and as you’ll hear in the podcast episode below, farmers shared videos of the InVigor patented pod shatter canola asking, “Will it shatter?”
Woycheshin shares that they call this test of the trait the “5 gallon pail test.”
“You put one plant of one of our InVigor hybrids with the patented pod shatter reduction trait in one pail and one plant of a non-pod shatter reduction trait in another [with a ping pong ball or a wiffle ball]. Put the lids on, then you shake it, rattle it, and roll the pails the same way to see the difference,” he says.
The pail test seemed a little silly at first, but Woycheshin says the proof was in the bottom of the pail.
“We’re seeing a bit of shelling in the non-pod shatter traits, and we’re seeing the InVigor patented pod shatter trait holding up. So we just… want to make sure growers understand that the pod shatter trait holds up even under tough conditions,” he says, referencing the tough conditions in 2021.
Those looking to see more can stay tuned this fall for some fun with new #willitshatter videos, too.
Nicolea Dow farms 1,400 acres at Portage la Prairie, Manitoba. Nicolea and her brother farm with their dad on their farm growing wheat, oats, canola, corn, and soybean. Dow says that her dad was an early adopted of InVigor genetics.
Dow is also a director with the Manitoba Canola Growers, and that’s given her a platform to be involved in other industry work.
She’s been a part of the Western Canadian Canola & Rapeseed Recommending Committee. “One of the things that I’ve been working on this year is chairing a subcommittee out of the WCC/RRC that’s working on developing a shatter rating. So this is something that would then be a standard across the industry, and is work that has really been pushed from canola farmers, and I’m really excited about it,” she says.
The 2021 growing season has been challenging for many, and while she says their year hasn’t been the worst, it has still been difficult.
“It was very dry when we were seeding, we got the seed in the ground, we got a really timely rain, and then as the canola’s coming up, we got a frost. A week later, we got that extreme heat, and then flea beetles that moved in for about a month. And since then it’s been hot, and it’s been extremely, extremely dry,” she says.
On the Dow’s farm, their first choice is to straight cut canola, and the pod resistant trait helps make that decision an easier one. But they still do use the swather in certain conditions.
“Some years there can be conditions in the field that we get the swather out. This year I think we’re going to swath a little bit, simply because with the extreme conditions we had, and some canola re-seed in patches in fields, we’ve got some extreme variability, and certainly having pod shatter canola is a great tool in years like this to help manage that risk.”
Woycheshin says that one major benefit of the InVigor pod shatter trait is that it is so consistent. Plus, the hybrid lines were also selected for decreased pod drop.
“It’s all about risk management. We’re seeing that this year — it’s so dry out there. Growers are wondering should they swath, is it worth it? Growers have to make that decision, obviously, but having that trait in your toolkit is certainly something you want to start with to help minimize that risk,” he says.
Dow agrees, adding that the pod shatter trait is a really fantastic risk management tool.
“We embraced it first of all because we had the ability to straight cut, and we were getting phenomenal yields by doing that. And I think that’s why many farmers, when pod shatter was a new thing, transitioned really quickly over to it. At this point, we’ve worked with it for a number of years, and we’ve seen not just the harvest and obvious yield benefits, but it’s been fantastic for managing workload and when you have a family farm, for us it’s just a family operation, time is really valuable; and having a tool that can help us reduce time in the field at harvest by not swathing is valuable, and having something can reduce stress by not worrying about it standing in the field is also valuable,” she says.
Dow adds that knowing they have the trait on certain acres does impact their harvest management decisions.
“Between the crops that we’re growing and some differences in how different hybrids and varieties have changed, it has really changed the harvest season. It seems that now, harvest, rather than being this one intense period of time, is a series of short sprints. Having pod shatter in canola, specifically, has changed the timing of canola harvest. For us, it’s moved it slightly later. There are things you can do to speed it up, and I have lots of neighbours that still do a late swath on their pod shatter canola, whether they’re aggressive on some of their pre-harvest options, there’s ways to bring it in early. But how we manage it, it pushes it a little later, and for time management for harvest, we’ve actually find that to be a good thing. Initially it can seem a little intimidating just because it’s different, but the timing has certainly has changed how we plan out, how we anticipate harvest.”
Added flexibility at harvest influences late season management, too, leaving several options open.
“Pod shatter has a lot of forgiveness built into it, more than other things do, but I really think if you want to be on the top end of growing it, especially as it’s coming into harvest time, managing every field on its own grounds is really valuable,” Dow says. “We often have issues with perennial weeds like thistles, and having some pre-harvest glyphosate applied is really valuable for longer-term management of that field, so we would make that decision. Other times, it might be a clean field but it’s just uneven and we want it ready fast, so looking at something like a true desiccant in that situation can be advantageous. This year we’re in a situation where we’re just not wanting to spend more money on a poor crop, having extreme variability. I had some fields that sections were drying up and turning gold, and other sections were gold because they were still flowering, all at the same time. Looking at a crop like that and knowing that I could just wait it out and let it all mature to straight cut and do nothing, but it is a little riskier move, and a lot can happen weather-wise, and knowing that there is the flexibility, too, to go in and swath and just try to get everything coming in together.”
Watch for the next episode of The Canola PODcast in October!