Canola growers are always looking for ways to improve yields and profitability, and this could be especially true after 2021. Although drought tolerance and improved efficiency in the use of l water characteristics are not available at the moment, producers have a few options available that could somewhat reduce production risks in 2022.
Days to maturity
Canola growers could use earlier maturing hybrids in at least some fields to avoid harsh weather conditions in the spring, summer and fall.
“Waiting for the rain and then sowing a short-season hybrid should mean faster establishment, which will help the crop grow much faster during the flea beetle risk period. Earlier maturing hybrids also tend to flower earlier, which will beat the hottest summer days, at least most years, ”says Clint Jurke, Agronomic Director of the Canola Council of Canada.
“And finally, they can be ready to harvest before the later maturing hybrids, which is useful if the fall frost and green seeds present a higher risk.”
Canola performance trials, funded by provincial canola growers’ organizations, compare major hybrids based on several factors, including days to maturity. Find the results booklets and the online comparison tool at canolaperformancetrials.ca.
Cabbage hernia resistance
“The risk of cabbage hernia is everywhere on the Prairies,” says Autumn Barnes, agronomist and head of cabbage hernia for the CCC. “For this reason, we believe that all canola growers have an interest in choosing hybrids that are resistant to hernia, including those who have not yet discovered a hernia problem.
Planting hybrids that are resistant to cruciferous root rot (CR) before the disease becomes established will slow the rate of spore reproduction. “This will help keep the spores low and local,” says Barnes. “Growers who wait for disease to take hold in a field before choosing CR could be stuck with difficult levels of hernia for a long time.”
Along with CR, there is a minimum two-year break between canola crops (one per three-year rotation). It also helps maintain a low spore count and protects the CR trait from natural selection of more virulent hernia pathotypes that can overcome the CR trait. Dozens of CR hybrids are on the market by 2022. Find the list and other tips on hernia prevention and management in the diseases section of canolaencyclopedia.ca.
Pod burst resistance
Cutting canola at 60% or after a seed color change on the main stem will generally give higher yields compared to cutting earlier. Hybrids resistant to pod bursting can be cut even later – at 80% seed color change or combined directly – with lower risk and higher yield potential.
“Thinner crops like the ones we have in 2021 always raise questions about the harvest. Do I have to swath to avoid losses from standing crops blown by the wind? Or do I have to leave it standing because the windrows will roll without a good high thatch to anchor them? explains Shawn Senko, agronomist and crop management manager for the CCC. “Pod burst resistance can be particularly useful in reducing wind losses for growing crops, which adds to the yield advantage. “
The increased yield potential makes pod burst resistance a consideration in 2022.
Treatment of flea beetle seeds
After 2021, many canola growers in western Canada may want a flea beetle resistant trait. In a recent CCC survey of 1,000 growers, flea beetles ranked # 1 pest among those surveyed, and 2021 was no exception. Flea beetle resistance is not present for 2022 – or any time in the near future – but improved seed treatments are an option.
“If foliar spraying becomes a regular practice on your farm, consider reserving seeds with an improved insecticidal seed treatment for 2022,” says Keith Gabert, agronomy specialist and insect management manager for the CCC.
Improved insecticide seed treatments aren’t perfect, but they should make flea beetles a bit more manageable when used in combination with other practices. These other practices, according to Gabert, include higher seeding rates and sowing in standing stubble, both of which can be factored into seed orders and crop management this fall.
The recommended canola stand is five to eight plants per square foot. “Targeting eight plants per square foot allows for some plant loss without sacrificing yield potential,” Gabert explains. “It also means less flea beetle per plant and more seed treatment per acre.”
When it comes to thatch, Gabert says wind protection from standing stems should trap snow, retain moisture, and may even reduce the risk of flea beetles. “Without this protection from the wind, flea beetles can take shelter at ground level and start feeding on stems instead,” Gabert explains. “This stem feeding can be much more damaging than leaf feeding.”
Each farm and each field will have its own challenges when it comes to canola productivity and profitability. Seeding decisions can play an important role in risk management, with successful canola crops often starting with the right traits, treatments and rates.