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Take time to choose the right canola varieties

With price volatility, as well as a push to get crops into the ground as quickly as possible in the spring, the Canola Council is urging growers in Western Canada to start early when it comes to selecting the right variety according to individual farm conditions.

November 10, 2008  By Canola Council

November 7, 2008

With the push towards earlier and earlier seed commitments for canola, variety selection decisions for the 2009 crop have already started. "Selecting the best varieties for your farm can be a tough call so make sure each choice is an informed one," says Doug Moisey, Canola Council agronomy specialist.



First, consider which varieties have been proven performers on your farm – keeping some canola acres planted to what you know can often be a good place to start. Then, look at new varieties coming on stream – improved technology may have a great fit in your area so consider introducing some new varieties on a small number of acres. Starting small will allow you to evaluate how a new variety will perform on your land, under your management.


When starting to come up with your ‘short list’ consider the weed control system, blackleg resistance rating, maturity, lodging resistance, cost and yield potential for varieties in your growing season zone. Make sure to choose suitable varieties for your area.


"It is better to select a variety with slightly lower yield potential that will actually mature in your area than to choose one with higher yield potential that has a very slim chance of finishing," Moisey reminds growers.


There is a lot of head to head comparison data available from companies right now. Reviewing data on competing varieties across many locations can provide some excellent information on a variety’s potential. Make sure to look at consistency of trial results. Similar yield results across multiple trial sites in your growing season zone indicates a variety has more consistent performance under a range of conditions relevant to your farm. Keep in mind that small yield differences between varieties are usually not significant.


And as is the case with any purchase, don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions. When looking at trial results, consider asking your seed supplier about things such as standability, growing season precipitation, fertility program and ease of swathing to help you evaluate a variety’s true potential for your farm.


Other sources of varietal information will soon be available in the form of PCVT (Prairie Canola Variety Trial) results distributed through publications such as Canola Digest and provincial seed guides.


Additional data is also available through the Canola Performance Online Database (POD) at


The last thing to remember is to lock in enough seed! Keep in mind your target for next spring should be about 10 viable canola plants/ft² to give any variety the best possible start. When calculating your seed order, remember that this translates into roughly 5lbs/ac for average size seed under normal conditions.



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