Top 10 planning and prep jobs for April

1. Get the drill ready. Check each opener, tire and hose. If you have a perfectly flat spot for leveling, that may also help achieve consistent seed and fertilizer depth. Read more.

2. Watch the Canola Stand Establishment video.

3. Try the tools at to find the target plant stand that fits your risk profile, then use seed weight to set an appropriate seeding rate. Stubble counts of last year’s crops cross-referenced with yield results and input costs for those fields may help determine the ideal stand for this year.

4. Scout for winter annuals, perennials and canola volunteers. How will these influence your pre-burn decisions? Also look for patches of weeds that weren’t well controlled last year. How early is too early for weed spraying?

5. Check out the residue situation. Have an idea whether you’ll be able to seed through it — especially in fields planned for canola. Alberta Agriculture has a new factsheet with tips for fields that still have crop to harvest.

6. Re-assess clubroot. Muddy equipment and moving water after a wet fall had the potential to spread clubroot. Fields that had been seeded to susceptible varieties in clubroot areas are due for an R variety. Yield Alberta data from crop insurance results (canola variety selection by risk zone) suggest that a lot of fields in higher risk areas are still not getting R varieties.

7. Manage ruts. Use shallow tillage to fill in ruts, keeping in mind that if compaction is the bigger target, compaction might not be as bad as you might think. Soil fully saturated with water is at lower risk for compaction. Action taken this spring to manage ruts might actually cause more compaction than last fall’s work in saturated soils. Read more.

8. Consider check strips. Start with a question you want answered, such as: Will 50% more nitrogen increase my canola yield AND profitability? Use replicated strips. Take it to yield. Read more.

9. Put together a scouting tool kit. With good snips, sweep net, plant-count hoop and more in hand now, you’re ready for a good year of stand and pest assessments and the improved decision making these provide. Read more.

10. Test soils. With the late harvest, growers may have run out of time for a fall soil test. Wet conditions in some fields over the past few weeks and months may have also changed the soil nutrient levels for mobile nutrients such as nitrogen and sulphur.