Questions of the Week

Top three ways to improve canola seed survival?

Only about 50 to 60 percent of canola seeds typically emerge to form plants, though the aim should be 75 percent. The three most important factors to improve seed survival are:

  • Take your time seeding. Slower seeding improves seed placement precision. We’re only in the second week of May. Canola seeded into early June can still produce strong yields in favourable conditions.
  • Seed into warmer soils. Soil temperatures of 5°C or higher with warmer weather in the forecast generally support seed survival and emergence.
  • Seed at around 1” depth. In fields with good topsoil moisture and good seed to soil contact, slightly shallower seeding (½” to ¾”) may speed emergence and improve uniformity.

(How to increase canola seed survival rates)

How to support strong stand establishment to lower flea beetle risk?

Canola crops that establish quickly and have optimal plant density are more able to outgrow flea beetle feeding and, therefore, usually face minimal damage. The goal is three to four leaves by three to four weeks post seeding. Achieve this by seeding shallow into warm, moist soils; using an advanced seed treatment; targeting 5-8 plants/foot2; and using safe rates of seed placed fertilizer.

(Flea beetles: management tips) (Flea beetle life cycle)

What (and why) to scout now?

Scouting is one of the most critical crop management functions. If seeding and spraying leave no time to scout, consider hiring someone to scout: the investment is well worth the cost. Weed scouting should start before planting. Once canola emerges, scout consistently and carefully as small plants are at risk from flea beetles, cutworms, weed competition and more. Be aware: large populations of flea beetles have now emerged. Earliest emerging canola, uneven crops and/or crops with low plants counts generally suffer the most damage from flea beetles. While scouting for flea beetles, cutworms and weeds, also check drill performance. Do emergence patterns line up with seeding depth?

How to spray in the wind?

Spraying when wind speeds are higher than 15 km/h will increase drift. So long as wind is blowing away from higher risk areas (like recently emerged crops or the neighbour’s yard), spraying can be conducted in slightly windier conditions using the following techniques to reduce drift: Choose low-drift nozzles that can achieve a coarse spray at a broad range of pressures. Increase water volumes to improve coverage via larger droplets. Configure nozzles for 100% overlap nozzle to nozzle to provide equal coverage across the whole boom width. Keep the boom low. Travel slower to reduce misting (fine droplets). Slow travel will also increase the safety of driving with a low boom.

(Spraying tips for tough conditions)