The most common problem associated with poor canola yield is a weak stand, so establishing strong, healthy canola stands is crucial for successful results. Before planting, take time to consider what is needed to get the crop off to a healthy and productive start.
Factors to Consider
- Field selection
- Field preparation
- Planting rates
- Planting date
- Choose a field for optimum canola production. Canola prefers well-drained soils that resist crusting; it cannot tolerate water-logged soils or standing water. However, canola is not drought-tolerant, so it is best not to plant canola on lightly textured or sandy soils. This crop also is very sensitive to ground with high salt content. Choose fields with low weed pressure to reduce competition for water and nutrients early in the season.
- Prepare the seedbed. Canola can be grown within both no-till and conventional tillage operations. Avoid excessive tillage in the spring as excessive tillage tends to loosen the soil and dry it out. A firm moist seedbed is crucial for good seed germination and seedling establishment. Soil crusting, dry seedbeds and seedbeds with excessive mulch are obstacles to establishing vigorous stands.
- Understand planting requirements. Canola can start germinating in soil temperatures of 40 F, but does much better in soils of 45 F to 50 F at the planting depth. Plant into a firm seedbed for good seed-to-soil contact at .5 inch to 1 inch deep, making sure to plant varieties with smaller seeds shallower than varieties with larger seeds.
- Select a planting date. North Dakota and northern Minnesota planting should take place in mid- to late April through early May to maximize yield potential. Canola seedlings are very frost-tolerant and can overcome temperatures as low as 25 F after planting.
- Follow planting rate recommendations. Seeding rates vary, but rates of 4 to 6 pounds per acre are common. Seed counts also vary greatly and can range from 70,000 seeds per pound to 160,000 seeds per pound. Open pollinated varieties are usually planted at higher rates than hybrid products. Use the appropriate seeding rate recommendation for a particular variety that will establish the desired stand count of 8 to 16 plants per square foot. Note that small seeds do not emerge as well as larger seeds.
Taking the time to plan your crop is perhaps the most important management step you can take to be a successful canola grower. It pays to place importance on planting. For more information, contact your local Mycogen Seeds commercial agronomist or trusted agronomic adviser.