Five tips when seeding canola late

Anastasia Kubinec's advice on how to get your crop to mature five or six days earlier

2014 canola insurance areas in Manitoba

It’s getting late for seeding canola, but there’s still time.

Farmers in canola area 1 (see map above) are eligible for full crop insurance coverage until June 15 and reduced coverage if seeding between June 16 and 20.

The deadlines in area 2 are June 10 for full coverage and between June 11 and 15 for reduced coverage.

Anastasia Kubinec, oilseed specialist with Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Development says with the right management you can encourage your canola to mature five or six days sooner than normal.

Here are her five tips to speed maturity when seeding canola late:

  1. Seed shallow
    The shallower the seed is planted, the faster it will emerge. The faster it emerges, the sooner it matures. Soils, even after the recent cooler weather, are warm and in most cases moist. Aim for a seeding depth of one-half to three-quarters of an inch. “There you’ve probably gained two days versus seeding to an inch or an inch and a half,” Kubinec said during a webinar June 4.
  2. Increase seeding rate
    Seed costs money, but a thicker crop encourages plants to compete, stimulating earlier and more even maturity. Canola Council of Canada research shows increasing the seeding rate to five pounds per acre from three pounds brings crop to maturity one to two days earlier “and it had no affect on yield.”
  3. Apply phosphate with the seed
    You should know the phosphate levels in your soil. If they are typically low phosphate needs to be applied with the seed, especially when seeding into wet soils or when late seeding. “If you have inadequate phosphate, now is not the time to skimp,” Kubinec said. “Readily available phosphate assists with early root development and establishment of the crop.” A fast start means the crop will mature sooner in the fall. It’s better applied with the seed, but broadcast phosphate if necessary. It will speed up maturity by one or two days.
  4. Reduce nitrogen rate
    Nitrogen spurs early vegetative plant growth in canola. “That’s not what you want (when seeding late),” Kubinec said. “Dinner plate canola with those leaves when it starts bolting is what we’re going for right now. We want to shorten up that time for that early vegetative growth.” The plant will still develop normally putting the available nitrogen into seed development and filling. Later seeding usually means lower yield potential so the crop needs less nitrogen. Apply the amount of nitrogen to meet your yield target, but have a realistic target.
  5. Switch to earlier maturing varieties
    See page 58 of 2014 Seed Manitoba or www.seedmb.ca for a list of varieties and their days to maturity in 2013. Also talk to your seed retailer. Some early season varieties could be moving into Manitoba now that seeding is done in most other parts of Western Canada.
Manitoba map showing frost risk for crops
Risk dates of the first fall frost for 2014 (click image for full view). photo: MAFRD

Broadcast seeding

Seeding equipment, whether it’s an airplane or a ground rig, needs to be calibrated to ensure the right seeding rate.

The seeding rate should be at least five pounds an acre, if not higher, to compensate for less than ideal seeding conditions.

The application has to be harrowed in to get seed-to-soil contact so the crop will germinate. It’s also a prerequisite to get crop insurance coverage.

  • Crop Chatter: Before you broadcast seed your canola

Crop insurance also requires that there be a plant stand capable of producing a crop “equal to or greater than the insured producer’s coverage.”

If fertilizer is broadcast, it should be harrowed in too, especially the nitrogen, which is susceptible to volatilization.

Weeds are developing fast now and should be burned off before seeding.

Switching to flax

Farmers planning to seed flax should avoid seeding it into canola stubble, Kubinec said. There’s a fungus that helps flax take up phosphorus from the soil, which drops off after canola has been planted.

“I would definitely highly suggest that you don’t plant flax after canola,” Kubinec said. “If you are make sure you’re putting on a really good dose of phosphate with your flax.”

About the author

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Reporter

Allan Dawson is a reporter with the Manitoba Co-operator based near Miami, Man. Covering agriculture since 1980, Dawson has spent most of his career with the Co-operator except for several years with Farmers’ Independent Weekly and before that a Morden-Winkler area radio station.

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