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Triple threat leads to canola reseed spike

Farmers headed into the field for round two of canola seeding last week after dry conditions, frost and flea beetles sabotaged their first stands

Farmers have been out in the field reseeding canola after flea beetles feasted on weakened crops
suffering through a cold, dry spring.

If you were reseeding canola last week, you were far from alone.

MASC reported a sudden spike in reseed claims the first week of June, most of them from canola fields. Canola claims jumped from 182 as of May 30 to over 700 by June 7.

The agency had received 850 reseed claims across all crops by June 7, manager of claims services David Koroscil said.

Frost, poor germination and flea beetles were the main points of loss, Koroscil said, although he suspects that flea beetles have now overtaken the other causes.

Manitoba’s canola fields largely weathered the frost in late May. Temperatures dipped below -2 C and stayed below freezing for five to six hours in parts of the west and east May 26, cold enough to damage canola crops. Areas near Dauphin and the northern Interlake, meanwhile, reported six or more hours of frost and lows between -3 C to -4 C.

Despite concern, MASC reported only 100 frost claims by May 30, mostly for canola.

Flea beetle damage may have been the final straw for some of those frost-stressed plants, however. Farmers across the province have reported multiple spray passes in an attempt to control the pests.

Some may have sprayed their field, only to be re-invaded a few days later, provincial entomologist John Gavloski said during a recent Crop Talk webinar.

Angela Brackenreed, agronomist with the Canola Council of Canada, said she fielded a sudden uptick in calls from farmers debating whether to reseed in the first week of June. Just travelling through her area, she said she also noted a number of drills back on the landscape.

“It’s usually rare that it’s one lone or solo factor,” she said. “Usually there’s multiple things that kind of compound and lead to these type of stand issues. In some cases, crops were hit a little harder by the frost events that we had, then after that, field beetles took advantage. We have had some cutworm issues. We’ve also had some issues of just really dry and poor germination.”

Much of Manitoba was still waiting for rain as of June 7. Parts of southern Manitoba got some much-needed moisture prior to the frost event in late May, but precipitation since has been spotty, and areas of the far southwest still sit at far below average soil moisture.

The province’s temperature extremes may not have helped plant stress, Brackenreed said. Temperatures went from near or below freezing June 2 to above 30 C the following day, prime daytime temperatures for flea beetles. She also noted, however, that the heat may help boost crops past the three-leaf stage and out of the period when they’re vulnerable to flea beetles in areas that have seen rain.

Seed treatment was been another area of concern this spring. Canola seeded into cool soil (conditions that Brackenreed likened to weather typical to mid-April rather than mid-May) delayed emergence, leaving producers to worry that their roughly three-week seed treatment window was running out.

Reseed or not?

Rain was still top of mind as producers considered whether to go back out with the drill, along with looming MASC planting deadlines. The agency says canola must be seeded by June 10 or June 15 (with extended seeding periods in the five days after the deadline) depending on region of the province.

“Obviously, number one is, what do I have for a plant stand and what can I expect to still come? How healthy? How vigorously growing is that stand? But (also) what do I have to seed into here and what’s the prospect of moisture?” Brackenreed said. “That’s a little harder to know.”

“The reality is, and these are the conversations that I’ve been having with producers, we need moisture either way, so we just have to assume it’s coming,” she added. “We need moisture for the crop that’s there and not being reseeded, but we certainly need moisture for that crop that’s being reseeded and we just have to assume that it’s going to come.”

Potential canola yield does drop the later it is seeded, Manitoba Agriculture says, although not as steeply as other crops. Producers could still expect over 80 per cent of yield potential if reseeding around June 2, compared to a crop like wheat, which would have already dropped under 60 per cent of potential yield by June 3, according to MASC data cited by the province.

About the author


Alexis Stockford

Alexis Stockford is a journalist and photographer with the Manitoba Co-operator. She previously reported with the Morden Times and was news editor of  campus newspaper, The Omega, at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops, BC. She grew up on a mixed farm near Miami, Man.



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