What causes canola seeds to sprout in the pod?

We know three causes for canola sprouting in the pod. This ‘precocious germination” can occur in these circumstances:

  • After a drought-stressed summer, canola plants may have a lingering hormone response that can cause seed sprouting in the pods and regrowth of cut plants.
  • While canola seeds are much less likely than cereal seeds to sprout while in standing crop or windrows, canola seeds can sprout if seed moisture drops down to around 10% moisture, then gets wet again.
  • Aster yellows can cause all sorts of plant deformities. With later infection, you might not see any of the obvious symptoms but AY can show up as sprouted (or otherwise odd growing) seeds inside the pod. In many cases, these misshapen or malformed seeds will dry up and blow out of the combine.
Canola seeds sprouting in the pod. Photo credit: Ashton Trawin

Sprouted canola is a grading issue. Sprouted seed is categorized as “damaged” seed. No.1 canola can have a maximum 5% damaged seed. No.2 can have up to 12% damaged seed. No.3 can have up to 25% damaged.