Give the Crop the Edge

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:
  • 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 from the Canola Council of Canada.