Get that tech field-ready
Farms already set up for variable rate applications, mapping and satellite scouting will want to have prescription maps ready, software updates installed, and subscriptions paid to avoid delays when the growing season begins. These tools can also help with on-farm trials. On-farm trials may be particularly useful this year if farms are trying a new product or a fertilizer practice (rate, split application, etc.) because of supply issues. (Quick tips for on-farm trials) (How to use technology to manage yield) (Canola Encyclopedia chapter on precision agriculture)
When short supply forces a product swap
Check on supply for all inputs. Farms not able to get the products and quantities planned for will need a plan B. This is a good time to review alternatives.
- Fertilizer. If a system is built around specific fertilizer sources, but those sources are not available at quantities that match target rates, does the farm: Cut back and hope supply is available for an in-crop top up? Try a new product? Use VR to cut back rates in zones where the return on investment is lower? 4R practices can increase efficiency. A basic step to improve NUE: Don’t float urea onto snow.
- Herbicide. If partner herbicides are in short supply, does a farm ramp up pre-seed burnoff? Pre-seed burnoff options. Consider the lowest label rate that would still provide effective control. To improve efficacy at those rates, spray earlier to target smaller weeds, apply in conditions favourable for higher efficacy, use high quality water and appropriate water rates.
- Seed. Consider this an opportunity to try something new, perhaps from a different supplier. If possible, try something with a different seed treatment (higher rate, different active ingredient) to compare flea beetle results. (Get the most out of every seed)
Grow registered varieties only
Growing registered canola varieties is an important part of assuring our export customers that the oil and meal quality, biotech traits and disease resistance in our canola supply meets their requirements. To mitigate risk, do not seed any de-registered canola varieties and do not deliver seed produced from them to an elevator or grain handler. For more information, including “no-grow” list of canola varieties, please visit the Keep It Clean website.
Protect herbicides with integrated management tools
Herbicide-resistant (HR) weeds present a management challenge for many farms. Noteworthy on the long list of HR weeds are Group-9 resistant kochia, which is now common across the Prairies, and Group-9 resistant downy brome, which was detected in southern Alberta in 2021. Many HR weed populations are resistant to more than one herbicide group. Farms relying almost exclusively on herbicides to manage weeds may want to consider a more integrated approach using other tools to take the pressure off herbicides. (Integrated weed management tips)
How much snow melt enters the soil?
Farmers can count on 20-50 per cent of the moisture from snow-melt entering the soil. The rest runs off. This variability depends a lot on surface soil moisture conditions. A North Dakota study concluded that 50 per cent of snow-melt moisture runs off or evaporates when surface soils (top 30-40 cm) are dry and up to 80 per cent runs off when surface soils are wet. (Full article)
Seeding prep for the southwest Prairies
Fields are bare in parts of the southwest Saskatchewan and southern Alberta. Here are some articles that may provide useful guidance on when to start seeding canola:
- Soil temperatures and canola seeding
- How early is too early to seed canola? This article has seeding date yield results for southern Alberta based on 1999-2001 dry years.
- Spring frost risk – dates
- Seeding into dry soils