Canola School: Maximizing yield potential after a tough seeding season

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Canola seedlings have experienced a tough start in many areas of the Prairies this year.

In Manitoba and eastern Saskatchewan, the crop has had to come through flooding, broadcast seeding, compaction, crusting, and flea beetles (stay away, grasshoppers), while it’s been the opposite soil moisture scenario in drought-stricken parts of Alberta and western Saskatchewan.

In this new Canola School episode, Chris Manchur, the Canola Council of Canada’s new agronomy specialist for eastern Manitoba, discusses the results of seeding in wet conditions — Manitoba Agriculture estimates as many as 15 per cent of canola acres in the province were broadcast seeded — and what it means for protecting yield potential through to harvest.

“It’s really important to figure out what kind of plant stand you have because that’s going to dictate how you’re going to be managing the yield potential moving forward,” says Manchur.

Whether checking fields for flea beetles and other insect pests, weeds, or disease later on, “if you have a lower plant stand, you’re going to want to be scouting much more frequently.”

Thinner canola stands will also have more variability in staging when it comes to spraying and harvest, as plants branch out to fill in the gaps. “You’re going to have pods on your central stem mature differently than the branching sides,” notes Manchur.

5 to 8 plants per square foot is still the target, but stands with 3 or 4 plants per square foot still have good yield potential, likely only averaging around five bushels per acre less, he says.

The Canola Council has brought back its Canola Counts calculator and survey program for the 2022 growing season to help growers determine emergence rates and collect data for mapping emergence and plant densities across Western Canada. You can find the tool/survey here.

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