Compare cultivar performance
Canola Performance Trials, the grower-funded cultivar comparison program, has posted the complete 2021 small plot and field scale data report. Results are based on 12 swathed small plot trials, 15 straight cut small plot trials and 64 straight cut field scale trials. Site distribution is based on seeded acres in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta. Drought conditions and early season insect pressure contributed to a lower number of successful trial sites in 2021. To see the 2021 protocols and use the interactive comparison tools, visit canolaperformancetrials.ca.
Top 10 prep jobs for February
- Consider how nitrogen split applications could reduce risk for 2022. This article has tips on in-field top dressing, and answers to a few reader questions. Canola Research Hub blog on nitrogen and phosphorus fertilizer placement.
- Assess snow cover. Be realistic about how much spring run off enters field. How much snow melt enters the soil?
- Evaluate spray water sources. The 2021 drought in combination with higher glyphosate costs will have some people wondering about the quality of their water source. Saskatchewan factsheet on water quality and herbicides.
- Prepare the seeder for uniform placement. The complete pre-season inspection. Drills may be in the snow, but if you have replacement parts in mind, this might be a good time to order them. Short video on drill prep.
- Assess the herbicide carryover risk. In case this wasn’t already done last fall, review risk scenarios before finalizing rotations for 2022. Read “Herbicide Carryover: Risk and Considerations” from SaskCanola and partners. Podcast.
- Plan on-farm trials. Tips from Canola Watch. Tips from Canola Resarch Hub (at the end).
- Soil nutrient analysis. Winter testing is an option as long as probes can get down 12 inches. Early spring tests should also give enough turn-around time. Check with service providers.
- Research variable rate fertilizer. Many drills are already equipped. Is this the year to put those features to use (for those who haven’t already)?
- Set a target plant density for each field. Use the tools at canolacalculator.ca to set a target canola plant stand as well as a seeding rate to hit that target. Tips to increase emergence percentage.
- Look into 4R nutrient management practices. See how 4R can lower fertilizer cost per bushel and reduce risk. Search for all the “4R” articles at canoladigest.ca, including this new one on enhanced efficiency fertilizer.
Use calculators to review canola profitability
Higher input costs and higher grain futures prices may have changed the profitability equations for canola and other crops. Break-even yield might be lower than expected. Here are links to the provincial cost of production calculators:
- Alberta (2022 updates will be ready the end of February.)
Break-even yields and prices for canola from the Saskatchewan Crop Planning Guides for the past three years, averaged for all soil types:
- 2022 – 31.3 bu./ac. @ $11.37/bu. = $356.22/ac.
- 2021 – 39.3 bu./ac. @ $8.49/bu. = $333.57/ac.
- 2020 – 43.5 bu./ac. @ $9.14/bu. = $397.59/ac.
Machinery maintenance to reduce yield loss
If farmers can’t find the new or used machines they hoped to purchase this winter, the next best step is to upgrade the existing line up. Here are a few considerations:
- Replace worn openers. Worn seeding tool openers can contribute to non-uniform seed depth and reduced separation between seed and fertilizer, both of which can reduce ROI for seed and possibly reduce yield. Also check hoses, metering systems and any other parts that might give trouble. Even though seeding tools may be in the snow, consider ordering parts now to make sure they’re on hand when spring arrives.
- Update sprayer nozzles to improve coverage and reduce drift. This increases efficacy and improves return on investment for spray applications, which ultimately increase yield. On a warm day, a surfactant or commercial spray cleaning product left in the booms and tanks overnight can remove residue you may not be aware of. This article has tips and a link to retrofits to improve clean-out.
- Combine maintenance. Install new chopper blades, patch leaks, buy/install a drop pan to measure losses.