Planters add a level of precision depth, seed placement, and seed spacing that’s rather difficult to duplicate in a drill, but adapting planters to a canola growing strategy does require shifts in management.
Doug Moisey of Pioneer Seeds Canada says that row spacing is the first of several considerations for planter success.
Super wide rows aren’t ideal, and Moisey likes to see maximum 15″ rows, with an ideal spacing of 11-inch spacing, which isn’t always available on every brand.
Farmers who opt for the planter should expect to be on top of the weed management game too, as those wider rows do take longer to fill in, and that lack of canopy cover can give the weeds an advantage.
There are fertilizer considerations, as well. To the good, there’s less chance of salt effect in the seed row, as many planters don’t have a fertilizer kit on board. But that means farmers need to sort out how to get that all-important phosphorus “pop up” effect. Some farmers are using Jumpstart, a biological seed treatment, to mitigate the lower P rate with the seed.
Precision placement really avoids seed clumps — with a bunch of plants in a row and then a gap — which is a nice advantage, Moisey says.
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Seed size for 2022 is one thing to watch for, Moisey says. So far, it looks like canola seed sizes are larger than average, and that means regardless of planter or drill, farmers will need to ensure they’re set up to account for the larger seed. “Make sure you’ve got the proper rollers or plates for your planters to make sure that you’re not cracking seed, you’re not breaking up seed, you’re not holding on to too much,” he says.
Planters can offer an establishment advantage, but Moisey says the research supports five plants per square foot can achieve full yield potential. The key is eliminating variability in emergence, he says, so dial in those seeding rates accordingly — a better job at planting can pay dividends in the longer term, even at slightly lower plant densities.