Welcome to the fourth episode of the Canola PODcast, sponsored by InVigor hybrid canola from BASF. The series was designed to highlight useful tips and tricks growers can bring to their canola fields to help make every acre count.
On today’s episode, we’re tackling myths about canola seed performance, and to break down the topic is Rob MacDonald, manager of Agronomic Excellence at BASF.
To begin, we start with seed size differences. Is it true that smaller seed doesn’t perform as well as larger seed? (story continues below)
“There’s actually some truth to that, in that really small seeds, and I’m talking tiny seeds really don’t perform. But where the myth falls apart, is that there’s an idea that as seed gets bigger, it gets better. And that’s not true. Our research and a lot of complimentary research done by other scientists really demonstrates that there’s more of a threshold in seed size that impacts performance,” he says.
Really small seed is somewhere in the 3 to 3.5 g thousand seed weight, something that was more common 15 years ago, in the early days of Polish canola.
There are processes in place to ensure consistent seed size — and top performing seed — makes it in to each bag of seed of InVigor canola.
“We’ve really developed a refined conditioning process to remove those smaller underperforming seeds from the bag. We don’t have to look any further than some research that was, you know, sponsored by the Canola Council, published by SaskCanola, that demonstrated, regardless of the seed size, for the InVigor seed lots that were tested, they had the same performance throughout the season, from emergence through establishment right through to final yield, that we get that consistent performance independent of seed size.”
A move to four seed sizes could be seen as complicating matters, as farmers will have to calibrate the seeder, based on seed size, however, MacDonald says that by focusing on four size ranges, the company has eliminated the whole range that seeds could be.
“Before we went to these four seed size ranges, we had over 20 different TSW in a huge range. So a grower would go to retail, pick up the seed, and he could have multiple different thousand seed weights in the bag, anywhere from four to six, and everything in between,” he says. Now, a farmer knows what they have and can calibrate accordingly for awesome results, and to keep things simple, every bag will cover 10 acres.
What about those who want to use a planter? Is there a seed size that works best?
“There can be some real benefits to using a planter for seeding canola, particularly as relates for getting improvements in the consistency of seed depth. But we have to keep in mind one thing with planters, is they weren’t built for handling canola,” MacDonald says.
The sensors that are built into planters are designed for larger, coarser seeds, such as corn and soybeans. So first thing to keep in mind is you can’t necessarily trust that sensor, and that can complicate calibration. With canola, regardless of seed size, remember that the planter discs had been modified to handle canola seed sizes, but the system itself wasn’t built or tailor made for handling seeds the size and shape of canola.
Seeding depth is still key to stand establishment, and the shallower the better is not always the best bet.
“In some dry seasons that we’ve experienced, you learn pretty darn quickly that there can be some real challenges with shallow seeding and stranding seeds in dry seed bed. The number one important thing is consistency of depth and second is, we want to actually keep those seeds out of the most shallow range,” he says. The very top layer (the top quarter-inch) gets so hot and dry, MacDonald calls it the “kill zone.”
Watch the video above or check out the podcast to hear more.