Seeding/Planting
A statement issued by the company On Tuesday, June 13th:

We regularly evaluate all aspects of our business. As part of these activities, we have recently taken the decision to exit the canola seed business. We are no longer selling or promoting our canola hybrids. We will, however, continue to support our existing canola seed portfolio through 2017 seeding and our programs and in-field product support, as per their terms and conditions. This decision is a business decision and we will work with all relevant parties to facilitate an orderly transition.
Published in Corporate News
Canola stubble has traditionally been the preferred stubble for winter wheat plantings because it can capture snow to insulate the overwintering wheat crop, improving winter survivability. However, some high-yielding canola hybrids have later maturities, presenting a challenge for seeding winter wheat at the optimum time.  
Published in Seeding/Planting
Farmers across the Prairies are planting record acres of canola, a crop that didn’t exist about four decades ago but now is the nation’s biggest, sown on more land than spring wheat. Richardson International Ltd. was the first company to market canola oil. It has since expanded capacity at factories like the one in Lethbridge, Alberta, as global demand exploded and Canada became the top exporter of an oilseed used in everything from salad dressing to french fries. | READ MORE
Published in Corporate News
Winter Wheat
Early planted winter wheat continues to look better than Thanksgiving wheat. The cool, wet weather has slowed the rate of wheat development to five to seven days ahead of normal. Most of the crop is at the flag leaf stage, however crop development ranges from 1st node to heads emerging. Cooler, wet conditions have continued to keep disease pressure relatively low, but have also resulted in parts of some fields turning yellow (wet feet). Some 1st and 2nd applications of nitrogen are still being applied. Aerial applications of nitrogen are being considered on heavy clay soils in the Niagara area. Yield loss has not been observed in the past when similar conditions occurred. If sulphur deficiency showing, apply now.

Septoria leaf spot and powdery mildew are the most common diseases and primarily situated in the lower canopy but on some susceptible varieties moving up. Keep scouting but in most fields fungicide can wait for T3 timing at heading. Leaf rust is has been identified in some fields. Stripe rust over the past week has been found in Oxford, Chatham-Kent, Elgin and Bruce counties; but at low levels. The disease is not moving as fast as last year.

Spring cereals
Early planted fields have emerged while planting continues as field conditions allow.

Corn
As of May 17, corn planting in Ontario is at about 30 percent completed; however there are several areas where wet soils have prevented planting, or where rain has slowed planting. Earliest April planted corn is at the 2 leaf stage but most early planted corn is struggling to emerge. The calendar is pushing some planting to occur into soils that are wetter than ideal.

Planting date and yield potential research (U of Guelph, Deen and Hooker) shows that 95 percent of potential corn yield can be achieved at Elora where corn is planted May 20; at Exeter where corn is planted May 25 and Ridgetown where corn is planted May 30.

With the increase in cover crop biomass, watch for black cutworm as corn starts to emerge and through early corn growth. Larvae will cut off the plant just below ground level and patches of affected plants will appear wilted from hollowed out stems. Cutworm larvae can be found near affected plants below the soil surface. 

Soybeans
A few fields of soybeans have been planted, but planted acres will increase quickly with forecast warmer temperatures and ideal soil conditions. Soybeans planted three weeks ago are knuckling but have not emerged. Monitor slow to emerge fields for seedcorn maggot damage, especially where manure or cover crops have been incorporated.

Canola
Planting of spring canola is in full swing with approximately 20 percent of intended acres planted. Winter canola fields are in bloom.

Cover Crops
Fall cover crop growth exceeded expectations, resulting in some fields with higher volumes of residue to manage. Soils can be slower to dry, or where cover crops are still growing, they can reduce soil moisture in the top few inches of soil resulting in conditions that are more difficult to plant into.

Forage and Pasture
Cereal Rye fields are being harvested as a forage crop with higher than expected yields. Alfalfa forage crops are still short, but a few warm days will make a big difference in growth. A few fields have been harvested due to shortage of feed or rotation to corn. Dairy first cut will begin the last week of May. Although there have not been reports of alfalfa weevil damage, scouting for leaf feeding and where found, scheduling earlier harvest, is important.

Weed Control
When growing IP soybeans, a preemergence herbicide program is preferred as it has typically provided the best weed control and return on investment in University of Guelph trials. As the season progresses, some producers may decide to plant first and worry about weed control later. A stretch of windy or rainy weather can easily take you out of that preemergence window. Timing of postemergence herbicides in IP soybeans is critical since control is significantly reduced once weeds get beyond the 6 leaf stage of growth. Traditionally, the ideal timing of postemergence herbicide applications have been around three weeks after planting with scouting for weeds beginning at 10-14 days after planting.
Published in Corporate News
April snowfall in parts of Canada’s prairies has halted efforts to harvest more than 2 million acres (809,370 hectares) of grain leftover from 2016, delaying spring planting in some areas by at least two weeks. | READ MORE
Published in Corporate News
Manitoba farmers expect to plant a record 2.2 million acres of soybeans this year as the popularity of the oilseed continues to grow at the expense of other perennial favourites like canola and wheat. | READ MORE
Published in Corporate News
Parts of Canada’s prairies will be wetter than normal in the last two weeks of April, costing farmers “significant” field work delays at the start of planting, says Joel Widenor, an agricultural meteorologist with Commodity Weather Group in Bethesda, Maryland. | READ MORE
Published in Seeding/Planting
Prairie farmers primarily use urea (46-0-0), anhydrous ammonia (82-0-0), or liquid urea-ammonium nitrate (UAN) (28-0-0) as their nitrogen (N) fertilizer sources. Nitrogen fertilizer can be lost due to volatilization, denitrification or leaching, depending on how the N is applied and the weather conditions after application. 
Published in Fertilizer
"A lot of Manitoba soybean growers are using tillage to try to extend their growing season by warming up and drying out their soils earlier in the spring. They want to be able to plant earlier so their soybeans will have a good chance of maturing before a fall frost arrives,” says Yvonne Lawley, a professor of agronomy and cropping systems at the University of Manitoba.
Published in Tillage
A new pea class may break new ground for growers and processors on the Prairies. The first varieties, Redbat 8 and Redbat 88, were developed by the Crop Development Centre at the University of Saskatchewan. Both have been released by the Saskatchewan Pulse Growers (SPG) to ILTA Grain through SPG’s Tender Release Program.
Published in Plant Breeding
Breeders continue to focus on early maturing hybrids and bring a variety of stacked traits to western Canadian corn growers. Seed companies have supplied Top Crop Manager with the following information on the new corn hybrids for 2017. Growers are advised to check local performance trials to help in variety selection. The listing is by ascending crop heat units (CHU).
Published in Corn
Soybean breeders continue to focus on early maturing soybean hybrids and bring myriad stacked traits to Western Canadian growers. Seed companies have supplied Top Crop Manager with the following information on the new soybean hybrids for 2017. Growers are advised to check local performance trials to help with their variety selections. Listing is by crop heat unit (CHU)/maturity rating.
Published in Soybeans
Generally researchers try to stay ahead of farming practices, but lately they find themselves chasing an explanation for an emerging one.
Published in Seeding/Planting
Agnition announced today that the Canadian Food Inspection Agency has granted registration for two products in Canada, Generate for crops and Commence for wheat seed treatment. Both products will be available to Canadian farmers for the 2017 growing season.
Published in Seed Treatment
A University of Manitoba study is generating some surprising results about soil temperatures and soybean planting dates.
Published in Soybeans
In 2016, soybean production in Manitoba reached a high of 1.6 million acres. This significant increase is partly due to the introduction of early-maturing soybean varieties that have expanded production to “non-traditional” growing areas. However, frost and near-freezing temperatures in spring and fall still remain a risk for soybean growers in Manitoba.
Published in Soybeans
Conducting regular soil tests is one of the simplest, fastest and least expensive ways to optimize one’s fertilizer program and maximize crop yield. Yet many producers still underuse this vital tool.
Published in Soil
According to Joanna Follings, cereals specialist for the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) based in Stratford, Ont., stand establishment problems in winter wheat tend to happen depending on the year.

In 2015, Ontario producers saw excellent fall conditions for planting, and most got their crop in early, so plants were well established going into the winter.

In 2014, producers weren’t so lucky: a wet fall meant delayed planting, and to make matters worse it was followed by a cold winter. Many producers experienced problems with winter survival.

“It can be a challenge for growers to get out in to the field in a timely manner,” Follings says.

Peter Johnson, an agronomist with Real Agriculture, is currently working on studies examining the impact of soil type, seeding rates and seeding dates on stand establishment.

“Typically here in Ontario we get about 70 per cent stand establishment,” Johnson says. “We get higher levels if we seed earlier into excellent conditions. Last year we were getting fields with 85 per cent stand establishment, but typically we seed under less than ideal conditions.”

There’s a growing body of research pointing to agronomic methods that can improve stand establishment in winter wheat even in bad years, Johnson says. This year, he and technician Shane McClure wrapped up a three-year “seeding rate by seeding date” interaction study, and the data should be available soon.

But Johnson says it’s clear that the earlier producers seed, the lower their seeding rate can be. The later they seed, the higher the seeding rate should be in order to maximize sunlight interception.

“We seed ultra early, two weeks prior to the recommended date, and at that stage we recommend decreasing seeding rate by 25 per cent,” Johnson says. “Our normal target is about 1.5 million seeds per acre, and when we seed two weeks ahead of optimum date, we can drop that to 1.2 million seeds quite easily, with no impact on yield.” On heavy clay soils, he recommends starting at 1.8 million seeds per acre and adjusting seeding rates according to date from there.

“Once you’ve moved past optimum seeding date, my standard recommendation is to increase seeding populations 100,000 plants per acre for every five days past that optimum date.”

In areas prone to heavy snow loads, snow mould infestations are much more severe with early seeding dates and high seeding rates. “Lodging concerns increase when growers seed heavy seeding rates early,” Johnson says. “But with highest wheat yields coming from early seeding dates, seeding early at lower seeding rates just makes sense.”

Seed treatments?
This year, Kelly Turkington, a pathologist with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s (AAFC) Lacombe Research and Development Centre in Lacombe, Alta., and Brian Beres, an agronomist with AAFC’s Lethbridge Research and Development Centre in Lethbridge, Alta., published new research pointing to the effectiveness of seed treatments used in tandem with appropriate sowing density to overcome poor stand establishment in winter wheat.

In one study, Beres and Turkington argue seed treatments are best used to offset weak, low-yielding systems.

If producers are starting with high quality seed with good germination rates, good vigour and low levels of pathogen infection, and they’re putting seed into a system with good seed-to-soil contact and using appropriate seeding rates, Turkington says the impact of seed treatments will be limited.

“Where we’ve seen seed treatments are a real benefit is when seed-borne disease, diseases that will impact germination, seedling growth or stand establishment, or diseases like smuts, are present in a field,” he says.

Turkington’s work was all done in Western Canada, but Johnson says similar results have been seen in Eastern Canada. “If you’re seeding into ideal conditions from a stand establishment point of view with no disease pressure, you may not see the benefit of seed treatments,” he echoes. “But if you get bunt in your wheat crop, that’s 100 per cent crop loss. For $3 per acre of seed treatment, or even $5 per acre, whatever that premium is, we can’t afford to take that risk.”

Johnson recommends every producer use a good fungicide seed treatment. Insecticide on the seed isn’t needed everywhere, but is more regionally isolated according to soil type and insect pressure. But he feels fungicide seed treatments are essential, even though they don’t always increase yield. “If I get dwarf bunt or common bunt in the crop, the grain comes out of the field smelling like rotten fish. The industry simply won’t accept it. That risk is simply too high,” he says.

“In terms of stand establishment, we see a benefit in stand establishment if you apply a fungicidal seed treatment under adverse conditions.”
Published in Cereals
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.
Published in Canola
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.  
Published in Canola
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