Canola council using survey to boost emergence rates

Growers can increase yield by five bushels an acre if they can increase emergence rates

A new survey aims to both record emergence in canola stands across the Prairies and encourage growers to shoot for five to six plants per square foot to increase yields.
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Canola Counts, the new crowd-sourced survey from the Canola Council of Canada, is now live on its website.

The survey tool will map canola plant densities and emergence percentages while helping to drive the adoption of regular plant counts as an important step in achieving target yields.

“Many canola fields are still averaging 50 to 60 per cent emergence, which means that of every 10 seeds planted, four or five of them fail to emerge or contribute to yield,” said Autumn Barnes, an agronomy specialist with the canola council.

“Assessing plant stands in every field, every year will help farmers and agronomists identify challenges and implement changes to plant establishment practices to achieve the recommended target of five to eight plants per square foot.”

Research shows that stands of five to six plants per square foot yield about five bushels per acre more than stands that average two to three plants per square foot.

To use Canola Counts, growers or agronomists will first take multiple plant counts (see tips below) and then enter the average plant density for each field into the online survey. The survey input form will calculate emergence percentage, and the whole process can be done in-field in about 60 seconds.

After submitting their info, users will receive an immediate summary email as well as maps later in the season that can be used to compare their fields with regional norms. Summary data and maps are easily shareable with partners, clients or staff. (For more information on how to complete the survey, go to and search for ‘canola count.’)

Each field entered in the Canola Counts survey gives producers a chance to win weekly gift cards for spring or fall counts, as well as a prize for users who enter the most fields in each Prairie province.

Here are some tips on taking plant counts:

– once canola has fully emerged and is at the two- to four-leaf stage or greater (and again after harvest), growers or agronomists should walk fields and calculate the average plant density (plants per square foot) for each field using a hoop or a metre stick.

– one-quarter-square-metre hoop: A hoop with an inside diameter of 56 centimetres and circumference of 177 cm covers an area of one-quarter of a square metre. Count the number of plants (not including volunteers) inside the hoop and multiply by four to get plants per square metre. Divide the plants per square metre by 10 to get plants per square foot.
– two-square-foot hoop: A hoop with an inside diameter of 49 centimetres and circumference of 153 cm covers an area of two square feet. Count the number of plants (excluding volunteers) inside the hoop and divide by two to get plants per square foot.
– metre stick: With a metre stick, count the seedlings per metre of row. Take that number and multiply by 100 then divide by the spacing between seed rows (in centimetres) to get plants per square metre. Divide by 10 to get plants per square foot.

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