Missing Seed or Missing Pods – What Happened?

As harvest gets underway across the prairies there are the usual questions about missing pods on a plant and missing seeds within pods. Missing pods means that something interrupted the plant’s development at flowering. Several stresses can cause blank spots where pods should form such as environmental stress (frost, extremely high temperatures during flowering, drought, etc.) or other stresses (such as herbicide injury). If a seed never was formed (no rudimentary structure or remnant of a seed present), then a stress (e.g. environmental) before pollination caused that seed to be lost. If a vestige is present (more easily found when the crop is in the early stages of seed colour change), then a stress post-pollination (e.g. late season insect or disease) has caused that seed loss. It is often difficult at this time of year to diagnose why seeds or pods may be missing. To help understand what has happened with a canola crop, keep good records (including weather information) throughout the season and scout regularly. For information on some of the more common reasons for missing pods check the following fact sheet: