Don’t float fertilizer in winter
Under snow covered conditions, using a broadcast spreader to “float on” fertilizer is rarely a positive practice. The risk to farm accounts (from lost fertilizer) and the farm environment (for the same reason) are just too great. Manitoba has a ban on winter fertilizer applications. If the snow has melted, those bare dry fields also present a return-on-investment risk for floated fertilizer. Broadcast fertilizer can be stranded at the surface, making it inaccessible for plant roots that will be growing down in search of moisture, but the recommended step of incorporation can dry out the seed bed. Canola Encyclopedia nitrogen chapter
Set the seeder to “uniform”
A motto for March on the Prairies: Be prepared for any moisture situation at seeding. The bottom line is that consistent seed placement at around one inch will improve overall canola seed survival across a range of conditions and produce a more uniform stand. Take time now to inspect the seeding tool, with a mind for precise and uniform depth and minimal moisture loss (based on the way things look now). We recommend this article and this video. You might also like our questions about seeding into dry soils and this week’s quiz.
Higher yields > more acres
If the goal is higher canola production for 2021, aim for more yield instead of more acres – because rotations are important. The agronomic three stars to increase canola yield are genetics, plant stand and fertilizer. Genetic tools include disease resistance that matches pathogens present in the field and other factors described here. A plant stand of five to eight plants per square foot provides canola with the best chance to reach maximum yield. Use fertilizer rates (and other 4R practices) that will provide enough nutrients to achieve target yields. How much fertilizer does canola need?
Adding more canola acres increases the risk of yield loss, which can occur with anything less than a two-year break between canola crops.
Is contracted canola safe in storage?
We want to make sure all canola makes it safely to market without spoilage in the bin or bag, but contracted canola lost to spoilage could be especially costly if it has to be replaced. Please check those bins for any sign of heating or spoilage. Moisture is just one risk factor.