Canola
New seeding rate and plant stand calculators from the Canola Council of Canada (CCC) will help canola growers set an accurate seeding rate that balances the good start canola needs with their profitability goals and appetite for risk.

Why build them? Growers often default to seeding rates of 5 lb./ac. or lower, regardless of seed size or field conditions. These tools will help growers as well as agronomists and seed retailers make more refined decisions.

What do they do? With the target density calculator, users position sliding scales to determine the level of risk for various factors that influence plant stand targets. If weed competition is expected to be very low, for example, the calculator will set a lower target stand. But if spring frost risk is high, the calculator sets a higher target stand to compensate.

The seeding rate calculator has three modes. In seeding rate mode, users input thousand seed weight (TSW), target plant density and estimated seed survival, and the calculator computes the required seeding rate. In plant survival mode, users enter the number of plants per square foot that emerged along with known TSW and seeding rate, and the calculator gives the seed survival rate. In plant density mode, the calculator takes TSW, seeding rate and estimated seed survival to give the number of plants that should emerge.

Because yield potential is known to drop off with stands of around four plants per square foot, the CCC recommends at least six plants per square foot to provide a buffer against season-long plant loss.

Canada’s canola industry has a goal to reach average yields of 52 bu./ac. by 2025. The CCC estimates that improvements in seeding and plant establishment alone can contribute three bu./ac. The tools at canolacalculator.ca can help.
December 23, 2016 – Results are in for the 2016 Canola Performance Trials (CPT). Data from the science-based, third-party variety evaluations for both small-plot and field-scale trials have now been uploaded to the online comparison tool at canolaperformancetrials.ca.

The searchable database now includes six years of data on yield, height, lodging and days to maturity, covering a wide range of growing season conditions. Online tools include interactive maps and the ability to refine searches by province, season zone (short, mid or long), herbicide tolerance (HT) system or trial type (small plot or field scale). Data can be viewed by searching all varieties or as a comparison between specific varieties (displaying either all available data for each or a head-to-head comparison).
Delivery points report a spike in heated canola, and the Canola Council of Canada is advising growers to check all canola bins as soon as possible. | READ MORE
Small plot data from the 2016 Canola Performance Trials (CPT) are now available in the searchable database on the CPT website and in the 2016 CPT small plot data booklet
Planting and development
Canola acres in Ontario were higher in 2016 than they were in 2015. The total number of insured canola acres in 2016 was just shy of 30,000 acres, compared to 25,000 acres in 2015. 

With a drier than normal spring throughout much of the province, canola growers were able to plant early. In the southern half of Ontario a majority of the acres were planted in the last week of April and first half of May. Rain in mid-May meant that some canola was planted towards the end of the month. Spring conditions in northeastern Ontario were not much different than that further south, so planting was relatively early in Temiskaming and Nipissing as well. Further north, towards Cochrane, wet weather pushed planting back into June. 

Early planted fields got off to a great start; they emerged within a week and moved quickly through early growth stages. There were pockets of frost in early May but it did not cause significant issues. Most herbicide was applied by the first week of June, and the majority of the crop was beyond 3 leaf stage by early June. Early planted fields began blooming in the second week of June. Dry weather and high day and night time temperatures during July and August caused some stress on canola plants, however, yield results and reports from farmers indicate the stress was not a significant issue.  

Insects and diseases
There was a limited amount of spraying for flea beetle in 2016. Seed treatments were effective in protecting plants from feeding during early growth stages. The good planting conditions and warm spring allowed the crop to advance quickly through early growth stages, minimizing economic damage normally caused by flea beetles. 

Fast, early growth is one of the best ways to avoid significant swede midge damage so the good spring conditions contributed to reduced swede midge damage. By the June 1, swede midge had been detected in Wellington, Renfrew and Grey counties and had reached threshold numbers in the New Liskeard area. Overall, fewer pheromone traps were set this year and data was not collected across the province, making it difficult to judge the actual state of swede midge populations. The need to spray across all counties was varied. Some had pressure that warranted spraying during vulnerable crop growth stages prior to bolting, and there were relatively high rates of success in controlling the pest. Much of the early planted crop was able to quickly grow past susceptible stages.

Spraying for swede midge did occur in northeastern Ontario but not to the extent of years past. A number of fields were planted in areas where there was no recent history of canola, reducing the risk of swede midge damage. In the majority of fields where there was significant swede midge pressure the crop did bolt but side branching was impacted. Swede midge continues to be monitored on fields in north eastern Ontario where there were high populations in years past. In early June, one field where canola had not been planted since 2013, approximately 500 male swede midges were captured in the first 24 hours after the trap was set. Growers recognize they have not entirely beaten the pest but have been able to manage it and keep damage levels low this season. 

In the southern half of Ontario, much of the crop bolted before there was significant swede midge pressure, so major economic damage was avoided. There were reports of swede midge at threshold in the Renfrew area during early growth stages, and those fields were sprayed. Many growers saw increasing trap counts during and after bolting and had to make a decision as to the value of spraying. Many acres through Bruce County, particularly those planted later, were sprayed once for swede midge and the fields had very limited damage in the end. 

Cabbage seedpod weevil (CSW) was identified at threshold levels in Bruce and Grey counties and some fields were sprayed. However, it is unclear as to whether the timing of the spray was at the appropriate crop growth stage. CSW will feed on flower buds to some extent, but the critical control period is when adults are present to lay eggs in newly forming pods (larvae feed inside the pods later on).  Spraying primarily occurred prior to 10 to 20 per cent bloom, but likely could have been delayed until early pod formation and combined with foliar fungicides.  Fortunately, a new population of CSW did not move in during later flowering stages and notable CSW damage was not found.  

Because of the dry field conditions and lack of rain in the forecast, risk of white mould was very low during mid-bloom. Many farmers opted to skip the fungicide application, and white mould was not reported. 

Quality and yield
Somewhat surprisingly, there were no reports of brown or heated seed in this dry, warm season. Quality was good overall, and green seed was not reported. Crushers have indicated that oil content was higher than last year, but is not as high as the western crop. The harvested seed did not need to be dried; in fact some was as low as six to seven per cent moisture. 

Canola yields across Ontario were good for the most part. Many have stated the crop was better than expected and that yields were consistent and strong. However, average yields reported by Agricorp indicate that in general, yields in southern and eastern Ontario were lower than last year, and yields in northern and northeastern Ontario were higher than last year. The average yield for the province, based on acres under production insurance, is 2,095 lb/ac compared to 2,341 lb/ac in 2015. 

In Cochrane, Rainy River and Thunder Bay regions combined (2,411 ac), the average canola yield was 2,256 lb/ac. In Manitoulin, Sudbury and Temiskaming regions combined (3,594 ac), yields averaged 2,006 lb/ac which is higher than last year (approximately 1,900 lb/ac). Yields in Nipissing were strong at an average of 2,719 lb/ac. Harvest generally wrapped up in these areas during the last week of September. 

Average yields in Bruce (1,820 lb/ac), Grey (2,058 lb/ac) and Wellington (2,322 lb/ac) counties are lower than last year and canola acreage across these three counties was 8,572 ac compared to 7,775 ac in 2015. All other canola growing regions between Huron and York averaged around 2,200 lb/ac. The average yield across Kawartha Lakes, Northumberland, Peterborough and Prince Edward counties was just 1,289 lb/ac. From Lennox and Addington and Renfrew through to the easternmost counties, canola yields averaged 1,967 lb/ac. The majority of canola in the southern half of Ontario was harvested by the first week of September.  

With this (unexpected) warm November weather, fall fertilizer applications on canola are probably better done now than back in October, advises the Canola Council of Canada. | READ MORE
Seeding date and seeding rate can have a big influence on canola yields and quality. The challenge is to get them both just right – a date that’s not too early and not too late, and a rate that’s not too low and not too high. Now a project has determined optimum seeding dates and rates for locations across Eastern Canada.

The project had its origins back in 2009 when the Growing Forward 1 program identified canola as a research priority because of the great potential for expanding canola production in Eastern Canada. Canadian opportunities were emerging for canola’s use in biodiesel because federal and provincial governments were setting requirements for Canadian diesel fuel to contain a portion of biodiesel. At about the same time, a major oilseed crushing plant was opening near Trois-Rivières, Que., providing a closer buyer for canola growers in Quebec and the Maritimes. And Eastern Canadian crop growers were becoming interested in canola as a higher value alternative to some of the cereal crops commonly grown in their rotations.

“[Good agronomic information is essential to advance adoption of any crop.] And some of the first questions that farmers who are thinking about a new crop alternative would ask are: When should we seed this crop, and at what population density?” says Bao-Luo Ma, a senior research scientist specializing in crop physiology with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s (AAFC) Ottawa Research and Development Centre (RDC).

To answer those two important questions for canola growers in Eastern Canada, Ma initiated the project in 2011. The objectives were to examine the effects of canola seeding date and rate on seed yields, oil yields and other factors, and to develop a model for estimating optimum seeding dates for locations in Eastern Canada.

The project involved field experiments at seven locations: Harrington, P.E.I.; Canning, N.S.; Fredericton, N.B.; Saint-Augustin-de-Desmaures, Que.; Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue, Que.;
Ottawa; and Guelph, Ont. To carry out the research, Ma collaborated with many researchers: Hong Zhao, a visiting scientist; Zhiming Zheng at AAFC-Ottawa RDC; Aaron Mills at AAFC-Charlottetown RDC; Claude Caldwell at Dalhousie University; Peter Scott at the New Brunswick Department of Agriculture, Aquaculture and Fisheries; Anne
Vanasse at Laval University; Donald Smith at McGill University; and Hugh Earl at the University of Guelph.

In 2011 and 2012 at each site, the plot treatments compared early, intermediate, and late seeding dates. The actual seeding dates depended on local weather conditions and site accessibility. At most of the sites, three seeding rates were compared: 2.5, five and 7.5 kilograms per hectare (kg/ha). A fourth seeding rate of 10 kg/ha was included at Guelph. At all the sites, the experiments used the same canola hybrid: InVigor 5440.

The project team measured such factors as plant stand, branches per plant, pods per plant, seeds per pod, 1,000-seed weight, seed yield, and seed oil and protein concentrations.

The model was developed using the data collected in 2011 and 2012. Then Ma led a two-year field experiment at Ottawa RDC in 2013 and 2014 to collect additional data for verifying the model. This experiment compared four seeding dates and three seeding rates.

The project was funded by the Eastern Canada Oilseeds Development Alliance and AAFC through the Developing Innovative Agri-Products program of Growing Forward 1, and the Canola Council of Canada and AAFC through the AgriInnovation Program of Growing Forward 2.

Key results
“The number one finding from this project is that optimum seeding date is important for optimizing yields and it is site-specific,” Ma says. Based on the project’s data, the optimum canola seeding dates are: Ottawa, April 24; Guelph, April 26; Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue, April 26; Canning, April 29; Saint-Augustin-de-Desmaures, May 11; and Harrington, May 25.

The optimum dates for Saint-Augustin-de-Desmaures and Harrington were relatively late in the spring. At Saint-Augustin-de-Desmaures, that was because of the area’s high risk of flea beetle damage earlier in the spring.

At Harrington, it was because of the cold spring weather. (No optimum seeding date was determined for Fredericton because of field inaccessibility issues.)

“The timely or optimum seeding date of a crop is very critical because you want to maximize utilization of the natural resources like light, water and temperature,” Ma explains.

“If you plant too early, the crop will face cold stress and may take much longer to germinate and emerge, and the seedlings will be weaker and more vulnerable to attacks by insects like flea beetles.” So for optimum crop growth, growing conditions following seeding of canola need to be warm enough to promote good stand establishment.

However, if you seed too late, canola yields and quality may be reduced. Ma says, “Canola is a cool-season crop. When growing canola in Eastern Canada, you may have the risk of very high temperatures and sometimes drought stress at flowering time. For the flowering canola crop this is very critical. Temperatures above 29 C will cause flower abortion, there will be not enough pollen for pollination, and yields will be lower.” Earlier seeding gives the crop a better chance of avoiding heat and drought stress during flowering.

Ma notes earlier seeding also tends to give the plant more time for foliage development, resulting in more branches, more pods and heavier seeds.
As well, research has shown early seeding tends to result in higher oil content in canola seed. “So even in a year when the yield is no different whether you seed one week or two weeks earlier or later, the chances are you will get a higher seed oil concentration in the early-seeded canola compared to the later-seeded canola,” he explains.

The field experiments showed some exceptions to this general rule about higher oil levels with early seeding, Ma says. “For example, in one year at [Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue], later seeding sometimes resulted in higher seed oil concentrations than early seeding. We think that was because in that particular year, the early-seeded plots suffered greatly from flea beetle damage.” The flea beetles damaged the main growing point on some canola plants. Some of those plants were able to eventually recover and produce additional branches. “The seeds on these later branches matured later than the seeds on the main stem of the later-planted crop. So in that particular environment, early seeding did not produce seeds with a higher oil concentration.”

The project’s other key finding is that a seeding rate of about five kg/ha is optimum for most situations in Eastern Canada.

The results showed raising the seeding rate from 2.5 to five kg/ha usually increased the seed yield for early-seeded canola. However, further seeding rate increases above five kg/ha did not increase yield.

Canola can usually reach its yield potential with a range of seeding rates because the plants will compensate for differing seeding rates by changing the number of branches and number of seeds they produce. However, very low and very high seeding rates are not recommended.

“If you plant too many seeds that will not be economic [because of the seed costs for the producer] and because the plants will compensate by producing fewer branches and fewer seeds,” Ma
explains.

“On the other hand, if the seeding rate is too low, [the crop yield] will suffer due to insufficient plant density.” And even if the crop is able to produce enough extra branches and seeds to compensate for a very low seeding rate, the extra seeds set on the branches may not be ready for harvest at the same time as the seeds on the main stems of the plants.

However, Ma notes that if growers are seeding canola during cold conditions, a slightly higher seeding rate would tend to provide better yields. In that situation, the higher rate can help compensate for the poorer germination and emergence, and weaker seedlings that can result from the cold seedbed.

Another important project result is the model developed to estimate the optimum seeding date. For most of the project sites, the model was able to
accurately estimate the seeding date with the potential to reach maximum seed yields. In this model, the optimum seeding date is a function of the location’s 30-year average (1982 to 2012) daily minimum air temperature in April and May.

Canola growers in Eastern Canada can use the seeding date for the location in Ma’s study that is closest to their own farm or use Ma’s equation to estimate their optimum seeding date, and then seed at a rate of about five kg/ha.
Research abounds on best management practices for top canola yields, but where the rubber hits the road is out in the field. A survey of 68 randomly selected canola farm fields across the Prairies identified the top practices farmers use to target high yield.  
Breeders are once again introducing new canola varieties, releasing commercial quantities for the 2017 growing season. The respective seed companies have provided the following material to Top Crop Manager for informational purposes. Growers are encouraged to consult third-party trials, such as the Canola Council of Canada’s Canola Performance Trials, for further information, and talk to local seed suppliers to find out how new varieties performed in local trials.
Last week Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang announced stable canola trade between Canada and China will continue through 2020. Under the agreement, canola trade can occur according to terms in place in August 2016, and measures to manage the risk of blackleg disease in canola will be based on science.
Harvesting of Newfoundland’s first canola field took place on Sept. 23, wrapping up an experiment designed to help inform future activities and contribute to agricultural innovation in the province.
Sept. 15, 2016 - Frost provides some natural desiccation that may help dry weeds and green stems in fields left for straight combining. Some growers actually wait for frost before combining, using it as a tool to aid in crop dry down — but this may not be advised if the field is ready and no frost is forecast.

After a frost, do watch the pods for shatter. Straight combining may be best performed shortly after a frost if pod shatter seems likely. Urgency may not be as high for varieties with pod shatter tolerance. | READ MORE.
Sept. 15, 2016 - No matter how good the harvest weather or how dry the harvested crop, all canola should be conditioned after it goes into the bin to ensure safe long-term storage — especially if it goes into the bin warm. For tough and damp canola, the spoilage risk is much higher.

Canola is considered “tough” at moisture levels between 10 per cent and 12.5 per cent. “Damp” is anything above that.

With tough canola, aeration can be enough to dry it to safe storage levels as long as air has capacity to dry: warm with low relatively humidity (RH). At RH values above 70 per cent, the equilibrium moisture content will be above 8 per cent to 9 per cent, meaning sufficient drying for safe long term storage is difficult to achieve.

Drying canola with aeration alone also requires sufficient air flow and time to move the drying front to the top of the grain mass. Damp canola will require heated air drying and rigorous management to condition it for safe storage. | READ MORE.
Sept. 9, 2016 - Canola producers can lose up to five bushels or more per acre if the combine isn’t adjusted properly. Here are tips to measure combine losses and make adjustment to limit those losses, putting more canola in the bin and reducing the volunteer canola seedbank in your fields. This video has similar instructions.

Step 1. Measure losses
Electronic loss monitors will not accurately measure losses out the back of the combine. They give a vague idea whether losses are changing and the source of the loss, but won’t tell how many bushels per acre are thrown over. The loss monitor should be calibrated by taking proper measurements behind the combine.

Measuring true losses out the back of the combine requires a drop pan. There are three drop-pan options:

Option 1. Various companies make a discharge-width pan that attaches under the belly of the combine. This type of pan is likely the safest option, and allows the combine operator to perform the checks on their own. These pans can either be set up electronically, with the addition of an electromagnet, or mechanically by simply attaching it via a form of pulley/rope.

This pan connects to the belly of the combine with a magnet, and drops with the flick of a switch in the cab.

Option 2. A pan mounted on a stick allows for better placement in the discharge area than just throwing it and can also help to keep the user out of the dust.

Option 3. A “throw pan” can simply be thrown in front of the rear wheels of the combine to land in the discharge area. This method is the hardest to control, with the potential for running the pan over, not having it land in the appropriate spot, or tipping over in the stubble. Beyond that, there are serious safety issues with such a method.

With all three methods, the size and style of the pan depends on how the operator prefers to check. For instance, divisions in a pan can inform where exactly the losses are concentrated. A pan that is equal to the width of the discharge area can remove some potential sampling error, and allow for one measurement to indicate total losses. A smaller pan requires multiple measurements to be taken across the width of discharge. Any size pan can be used — the square footage just needs to be known to perform the calculations.

How to take a sample

Once the collection tool is chosen, here are the simple sampling steps:

  1. Disengage the spreader and straw chopper and move them out of the way. That way, all straw and chaff drops straight down over the pan. This is important for calculations, as losses will typically not be uniform across the width of spread.
  2. Drop the pan, throw the pan, or hold the pan. When using the stick pan, move it into position upside down so it doesn’t gather any losses ahead of time. To position the pan, walk behind and to the side of the rear wheels and extend the pan so its in front of the chaff and straw discharge area. Once the pan is in position, quickly flip it over and stand still until the combine has passed over the pan.
  3. Remove the straw and chaff and preserve only the seed. This can be done by hand relatively well, but a screen or sieve works best. Another method is to put the collected sample in the bottom of a deep five-gallon (20-litre) pail and stick a blower or old hairdryer into the pail. Chaff and straw will blow out and leave the seed behind.

How to calculate loss per acre

  1. Measure the seed in the pan. This can be done by weight (grams) using a scale or volume (millilitres) using measuring spoons or volumetric cylinders. The weight method is more precise, but the volume method may be slightly easier to perform in the field. For more on these options, click here for a link to the Combine Seed Loss Guide.
  2. Calculate based on one square foot. If your pan is two square feet, for example, divide the measurement in Step 1 by two to get the total for one square foot.
  3. Determine the concentration factor for your combine. This is a ratio of header width and combine discharge width. If you are picking up a swath, this will be based on the swath header width, not the pick-up header width. For example, if the cut width is 30 feet and the discharge width is five feet, then the CF is “6.”
Find the tables here.
4. Plug these numbers into the tables to get losses in pounds or bushels per acre. For example, if the cleaned sample amounts to 6.2 grams per square foot and the combine CF is 6, this converts to a loss of 100 pounds per acre — or two bushels per acre.

5. Take another sample before moving on to steps 2 and 3.

*The web-based app from agrimetrixapps.com allows you to skip 2 and 3 above by just plugging in the appropriate information.

Step 2. Determine whether those losses are acceptable
A 1 per cent loss is about the best you can expect. Combines running efficiently will lose some grain. If the target is zero losses, you may be running too slow to get the job done in a timely fashion.

On a 40 bu/ac canola crop, a three to five bushel loss represents 7.5 per cent to 12.5 per cent of the potential yield. Reducing those losses can provide a significant boost in profit.

An acceptable loss rate strikes a balance between productivity, saving grain, and a clean sample. For some, 1 per cent is worth striving for. For others, 3 per cent might be best if the harvest season is tight and it means they can keep the feed rate up and harvest an extra quarter section per week per machine.

Step 3. If losses are too high, take steps to lower them
Check for leaks. Losses do not always come out the back end. Before making any adjustment to cylinder speed, concave spacing, fan speed or sieve spacing, check over the combine to make sure you don’t have any leaks. Look for holes and cracks on the pickup, feederhouse, elevator, shoe seals, separator covers and the grain tank.

Feed the combine properly. Rotaries work best with a narrow windrow. Conventional walker combines work best with a wider swath that creates an even mat over the full width of the cylinder and walkers. In PAMI research conducted by Les Hill, where an even mat resulted in losses of 2.2 per cent, losses rose to 7.5 per cent when the bulk was concentrated down the middle and 12.3 per cent when the bulk was on one side. The simple reason is that air can’t move through the mass and the mat carries unseparated grain out the back.

Slow down. It may take just a small decrease in speed — say 0.2 or 0.3 mph — to provide a significant reduction in losses, Hill says. The loss curve tends to remain fairly flat until ground speed reaches a critical point when combine capacity is taxed, then the loss curve can rise steeply. “When a combine hits that wall, a lot of the time it’ll start dumping grain out the back,” Hill says. When testing for your combine’s sweet spot, reduce speed in small increments and keep throwing out the pan to check losses.

Make adjustments. If losses are far too high, try starting out with the manual’s suggested settings and go from there. Change only one variable at a time and check losses in between so you can be sure what has either helped or hindered the loss situation. Check that automatic settings are properly calibrated. For instance, if the chaffer setting on the monitor says 18mm, take a ruler and check that the chaffer spacing is in fact 18mm.

When considering adjustments, here are a few specific situations and possible solutions:
  • If you find unthreshed pods in the chaff, the combine is underthreshing. Increase cylinder or rotor speed, narrow the concave setting, add concave blanks, or slow down.
  • Losses can also result from overthreshing, or going TOO slow. If straw is getting pulverized into small pieces that drop down to the sieves, thus reducing air flow and separation, this is usually a result of overthreshing. Cracked seed is another sign of overthreshing. Consider lowering the cylinder speed or widening the concave setting. This adjustment may also make it possible to drive faster and keep losses constant.
For more of these scenarios, please read the Combine Seed Loss Guide

China is preparing to enact a rule as of Sept. 1 that would require the amount of extraneous plant material in canola-seed exports to make up less than one per cent of each shipment. The Chinese are a major customer for 43,000 farmers, mainly in Western Canada but also Ontario and Quebec, who export their product through grain handlers. Last year, China bought more than 40 per cent of all canola Canada sold abroad. | READ MORE

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