How to assess the right ‘go time’ for seeding
Early-seeded canola tends to yield more than later-seeded canola, but this is based on late April or early May as the “early” treatment. Will seeding too early jeopardize a strong start? A rapid and evenly-emerging canola crop is more likely to outpace flea beetle pressure, will be more competitive against weeds, and the higher seed survival provides a better return on investment for seed. Growers may need a higher seeding rate when seeding early. On the seed topic… For seed left over from last year, get a germination or vigour test to set an appropriate seeding rate. Low vigour seed may not be the best choice for early seeding. (How early is too early to seed canola?) (Tips to increase canola seed survival rates) (Spring frost risk maps) (Canola Digest: Get the most out of every seed)
Is the seeder ready to roll?
Seeding tools are coming out of sheds and snow banks. For a successful canola seeding operation, give seeding tools a complete inspection now in case they need parts. Cracked hoses? Worn packers? Dull openers? Air pressure issues? Rough bearings? Order parts now. (Complete pre-season inspection list) (Podcast: Prep the drill for uniform seed depth) (Seeding canola in dry conditions)
So many reasons to soil test
Nutrient carryover *could* be higher than in previous years – especially if dry conditions reduced yields in 2021. Spring sampling is recommended if (1) samples were not taken in the fall, (2) crop regrowth or weeds in the fall may have taken up enough nutrients to change soil test results or (3) moisture from snow melt may have increased spring losses. Collect samples as soon as fields are dry enough for travel. The next conversation is to check with suppliers about orders and delivery, and whether growers can get what they need. (Canola Encyclopedia soil testing tips)
Seed-row fertilizer does more damage in dry soils
Canola damage from seed-placed fertilizer comes from the nitrogen component of ammonium phosphate, ammonium sulphate and all nitrogen fertilizers. Potassium fertilizers, which have a high salt index, can also damage seedlings. Damage can be worse in dry soils. The safest is to put no fertilizer in the seed row. One exception is a starter rate of phosphorus (15 to 20 lb./ac. of P2O5 or ~30-40 lb./ac. of monoammonium phosphate), which can provide an establishment benefit for canola seedlings, especially in cool soils. If farmers are looking to cut phosphorus rates to manage costs, consider the soil test result. If fields are testing medium for residual phosphorus, a fertilizer rate of 15 to 20 lb./ac. of P2O5 will give good economic response – even if it doesn’t make up for crop removal. If tests are low (below 10 ppm), growers should stick with recommended fertilizer rates. (Canola Encyclopedia on seed-placed fertilizer) (New podcast on nutrient maximization)