Tempted to seed early? Think frost

Warm soil temperatures and decent soil moisture in most regions will mean rapid emergence. Seed put in the ground today could be up in seven to 10 days. (The graph below shows the connection between soil temperature and faster more even emergence.) Frost damage risk for these early crops is higher, especially if the plants have not been hardened off by cooler weather before the frost. But there are benefits to early seeding: In Canola Council trials, early-seeded plots (May 6 on average) were the highest yielding 7 times out of 10.

One early seeding tip from the Canola Council of Canada factsheet is to target 7-14 plants per square foot. Why? Adequate plant stands buffer the effect of flea beetles by spreading insect feeding over a greater number of plants; cushion the impact of spring frost or diseases by allowing some plant mortality without an immediate effect on yield potential; allow plants to mature more quickly with less variability thereby reducing risk of fall frost damage; and make it easier to judge time of swathing.

Two final notes:
One, if growers do plan to seed in April, check with crop insurance and the companies providing risk share programs that cover reseeding to make sure canola seeding in April in their region is covered. Two, early-seeded crops are also more vulnerable to cabbage seedpod weevil.