This spring’s growing conditions are extremely stressful for canola seedlings and can severely affect germination and emergence. As a result, assume (best-case scenario) average emergence will occur. It is realistic to assume only 50% of the seeds planted will result in healthy seedlings. 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 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.
For more seeding tips go to the SEED Smart information http://www.seedsmart.org/ from the Canola Council of Canada.