Strong start for canola pays off
By Top Crop Manager
Feb. 4, 2015 - A strong start for canola pays off all season long. The Canola Council of Canada says growers who invest the time to place seed at an even, shallow depth and invest in a seeding rate that will provide seven to 10 living plants per square foot will usually see a strong return on that investment through reduced pest management costs, easier harvest timing, lower green seed counts and higher yields.
"Seeding slower to ensure accurate placement, getting out from time to time to check drill performance, and applying enough seed to achieve these target stands can increase up-front costs," says Justine Cornelsen, agronomy specialist for the Canola Council of Canada (CCC). "But because a more competitive uniform crop may not need as much weed or insect control, is harvest-ready earlier, which lowers the risk of green seed, and tends to yield more, the return on investment is strong."
The Canola Council of Canada has a new video that describes key stand establishment steps using animated video and a question and answer format with growers. View the video on YouTube.
The video describes how uniform stands of seven to 10 plants per square foot act as insurance, preserving yield potential in the face of early-season threats from frost, insects and seedling disease.
Seed with higher thousand seed weights will have fewer seeds per pound, so heavier seed may have to be planted at higher pounds per acre to achieve the target stand. And if soil moisture conditions are favourable and seed survival is 80 per cent, canola will only need nine to 13 seeds per square foot to reach the target. However, if survival is 50 percent, a minimum of 14 seeds per square foot are required.
The video also describes how seeding too fast for the drill or the soil conditions can lead to uneven seed placement row to row. Drills tend to sacrifice precision placement when operated too fast, and back rows of openers will throw more soil over the front rows, creating uneven soil cover for each seed row. Uneven seed depth results in uneven emergence.
Other factors in stand establishment include straw and chaff management to create an even layer, seed depth of one-half inch to one inch for more rapid emergence and more seedling vigour, and safe rates of seed-placed fertilizer.