When is too late to seed canola?

Manitoba crop insurance data show that canola seeded the first week of June yields about 85% of canola seeded mid May, on average. (See the table below.) Trends are similar for other provinces. Growers in rain-delayed Manitoba, eastern Saskatchewan and southern Alberta are wondering when is too late to seed canola? Factors in this decision are maturity of the variety, average date of first fall frost, crop insurance deadlines and profit potential of alternative crops.

Maturity of the variety. Ask for the days to maturity of the variety you plan to seed. Consider regional differences. Growers could try to find an earlier maturity variety, but that is often easier said than done — especially in a year when canola acres are predicted to rise and seed availability is limited. Click here for tips on how to get canola to mature earlier.

Average date of first fall frost. This will tell you how much growing season you have left — on average. Click your province for a map showing average dates for first fall frost: Alberta Saskatchewan Manitoba. (Click here for frost probabilities for each station on Alberta’s AgroClimatic Information Service (ACIS) website.) Most fall frosts occur within two weeks either side of the average date for your area. For example, if the first fall frost is between August 31 and September 6, on average, then a variety with 100 days to maturity should be seeded this week to be on the lower risk side for fall frost losses.

Profit potential of other crops. Yield potential for all crops drops with late seeding. Will a lower yielding canola crop provide a better return than a lower yielding wheat or barley crop? Take time to pencil out the economics.

Crop insurance deadlines. In Manitoba, crop risk area 2 has a deadline of June 10 for canola, and crop risk area 1 has a deadline of June 15 for full coverage. Saskatchewan Crop Insurance Corporation has extended its seeding deadlines for 2011. Deadlines vary by R.M. Call the SCIC toll free customer service line at 1-888-935-0000 or visit the local SCIC office for specifics. For Alberta deadlines, click here to find contact information for the local AFSC office.