Low expectations for fall seeded canola

Some growers in wet areas are considering fall seeding canola in case spring 2011 is too wet to get the crop in. If the winter and spring are dry and it looks like they can get into the fields, the plan, for some, is to spray out the fall-seeded canola with Roundup and go about seeding as normal.

Fall seeded canola is risky. With wet soil conditions, any warm temperatures this fall may lead to premature germination of dormant seeded canola. Spring freeze and thaw cycles can also greatly reduce seed soundness and germination rates. Growers may want to increase the seeding rate — maybe even double the rate — to attempt to compensate for the high risk seed environment.

What kind of seed to use? Using new seed or carryover treated seed may increase odds for success but will also increase costs. However, bin run seed is generally not recommended based on both legal and agronomic considerations. Growers have to be aware of production contract agreements that do not allow seed re-use for many varieties. Research has also indicated that certified hybrid seed outperforms bin run F2 seed. The Canola Council of Canada does not recommend the practice of using bin-run seed. Also, seed without seed treatment will be more vulnerable to seedling blights, root rots and flea beetle damage.

Crop insurance for fall-seeded canola varies by jurisdiction. AFSC in Alberta and SCIC in Saskatchewan do not provide winterkill coverage but will provide crop insurance next spring if the crop passes an establishment assessment. Manitoba provides no coverage for fall-seeded canola.

In short, fall seeding canola has worked occasionally, but in many cases the risks will be at least as great as the ones producers are trying to avoid, so keep expectations low. Click here for more from the Canola Growers’ Manual.