Seeding operations progressed late last week and over the weekend. Where conditions are wet, acres are being seeded on a field by field basis. Seeding in the wetter areas is probably five to 10% complete. In the drier areas, seeding of cereals and pulses is nearing completion and seeding of canola is becoming more general this week with some producers having more than 50% already seeded.
Less Than Ideal Conditions
Surface soil moisture is rapidly depleting in many regions and soil temperatures remain cool. In many areas, frost is occurring nightly. These conditions are extremely stressful on canola seedlings and will affect germination and emergence. Unless conditions improve, assuming only about 50% of the seeds planted will result in a healthy seedling as a best-case scenario, should be a reasonable estimate for calculating appropriate seeding rates. Recognizing that yield potential starts to drop when seeding is delayed after mid-May, what can be done to maximize seedling survival prior to planting?
If seeding early into cold, dry soils consider the following strategies:
- Chasing moisture is not the way to go. Seed shallow and wait for spring rains.
- Target a consistent seeding depth of ½” to 1”. It may be necessary to slow down to achieve this consistency.
- Because of changing soil conditions and the potential for mechanical issues with drills, check the seeding depth periodically, particularly when moving field to field.
- Maintain a reasonable seeding rate or potentially bump seeding rates up by 10%.
- Canola seed size can be quite variable. Take note of the seed size (TSW should be marked on seed tags or seed bags) and adjust seeding rates accordingly. A seeding rate calculator can help with the planning:http://www.agric.gov.ab.ca/app19/calc/crop/otherseedcalculator.jsp
- Place fertilizer (in safe amounts) near the seed to optimize efficiency. Seed-placed phosphorous can give a pop-up effect especially under cool conditions.