Cold soils? Seed anyway

Seeding into warmer soils speeds up emergence and makes it more uniform. However, the yield benefits of seeding early May versus late May (most years) are too important to ignore..
Seeding into warmer soils speeds up emergence and makes it more uniform, but in mid May, we have to assume soil temperatures will be warmer by next week when the crop starts to emerge.

It’s mid May, so put away the soil thermometer. When you get the chance to seed, then seed.

Seeding into warmer (8-10°C) soils will improve seed survival and have more seed emerging at the same time (as shown in the graph) but waiting for warm soils needs to be balanced against the yield benefits of early seeding. To improve seed survival and speed of emergence in cooler soils, seed shallow and use safe rates of seed-placed phosphate. Limit all other seed-placed fertilizer. For more tips, read here.

Two more things about seeding May 14 into cool soils:

1. Canola seed can germinate in soils as cool as 2°C.
2. And even if soils are cool today, they should be warmer in a week when emergence begins. Many areas are warm today or will be by tomorrow, and according to the Weather Network and Environment Canada, highs look to stay in the teens for most of the Prairies for the coming week.

Further reading:
How to increase seed survival rates
Broadcast seeding tips

Listen to a stand establishment podcast with CCC agronomy specialist Autumn Barnes.