Questions of the Month

What yield robbers did the Canola Watch survey identify?

The November Canola Watch asked readers to complete our 2023 yield robbers survey. We had 126 responses, including 47 from Alberta, 44 from Saskatchewan and 30 from Manitoba.

  • 54% said yields were better than expected, 18% said worse than expected. Notable answers: A respondent from the Brown soil zone said yield was better than expected because they expected nothing due to extreme drought. A respondent from the Black soil zone said yield was worse than expected because the straw suggested 70 bu./ac. and yields were only 50 bu./ac.
  • In the ranking of yield robber categories, weather was first. Too little moisture and too much heat were the most common weather factors, by far.
  • Sclerotina stem rot was the top yield-robbing disease, according to this survey. Note that 27 of 53 who chose sclerotinia were from Alberta, mostly from the grey and black soil zones. These areas had more moisture than the rest of the Prairies in 2023. Nine of the 53 were from Manitoba, yet sclerotinia stem rot severity was very low in the official Manitoba 2023 disease survey.
  • Aster yellows spiked in 2023. Of the 24 who said aster yellows had a great effect on canola yield, 13 were from Saskatchewan, six from Alberta and three from Manitoba. Official disease surveys found aster yellows in 33% of fields surveyed in Saskatchewan in 2023, with 5% of plants diseased, on average, in fields with the disease. Because plants with aster yellows have almost no yield, 5% of plants infected works out to 5% yield loss. While 2023 was worse than usual, Manitoba provincial plant pathologist David Kaminski says aster yellows in 2023 was “no where near the levels in 2012.”
  • Flea beetles were the top yield robbing insect, according to the Canola Watch survey, despite considerably lower damage in 2023 compared to the previous few seasons. Grasshoppers were second, which is more in line with general observations. It was a bad year for grasshoppers, especially in Alberta and Saskatchewan. 

How do you safely check canola bins for spoilage?

With warm-cold cycling this month, we’re hearing reports of canola spoilage in storage. Did your canola have a lot of chaff? Chaff often has higher moisture than seed, and concentrated areas of chaff could be a start point for spoilage, even in a bin where the seeds test dry. Factors that increase storage risk. The best method to check bins is to remove about a third of the canola. This disrupts the moisture cycle and helps to stop any heating or spoilage that may have begun in the central core. This also keeps your feet on the ground. Please take extra care when climbing ladders in winter – boots are slippery and hands are cold. For more safety tips, search for “storage” at the CASA farm safety library. Resources include a link to a grain bin fall protection system.

You have blackleg test results. Now what?

Various labs will test canola stem pieces for blackleg and provide analysis of blackleg races present. These results will help growers choose the best canola R-genes to use the next time canola goes on that field. While farms shouldn’t be planting canola onto those same fields next year, test results can be a good indicator of blackleg races on the farm, especially for neighbouring fields. The new Canola Watch Fundamentals article, “Six basics of blackleg management,” has more information on blackleg testing and cultivar selection. 

How can we help create a bold and secure future for canola? 

To help answer that question, join us at the 2024 Canadian Crops Convention, hosted in partnership by the Canola Council of Canada and Canada Grains Council, March 5-7, 2024 at the Fairmont Winnipeg. Network with other industry members, learn from expert speakers and share ideas to help Canada lead the way on important global issues including environmental sustainability and food security.  Register by December 13 and you’ll be entered into our first early bird prize draw to win a JBL portable Bluetooth speaker. The next prize draw deadline is January 17, and the prize is a 4 pack of Apple AirTags. Find more details on the 2024 Convention and register today at

Register for the Canola Council of Canada Canadian Crops Convention 2024