How early is too early to seed?

Fields may have soil temperatures adequate for canola establishment and enough moisture for emergence, but should growers seed canola in early to mid April?

Past experience would suggest that starting on peas and maybe some cereals in mid April would be the preferred early-seeding choice, with canola going in late April and early May. Growers may see value in experimenting with one early-seeded canola field, but other crops tend to be better options for seeding in mid April.

For any canola fields seeded on the early side, growers may want to consider a slightly higher seeding rate. Look at the target plant stand. Factor in lower seed survival and/or the extended emergence window with early seeding, and set a seeding rate accordingly.

Southwest Prairie: Given that dry soils can dry out further with the warm and persistent winds of Southern Alberta, early seeded canola may go into more moisture than later seeded canola. April seeding has shown benefits over May seeding in dry years in the brown soil zone of Alberta, according to the Alberta Agriculture yield results shown in the graph below:

This graph from Alberta Agriculture and Food shows that in dry years (1999-2001), canola seeded in late April in the brown soil zone outyielded canola seeded in May.