Seeding canola into dry soils not out of question: CCC

(Photo courtesy Canola Council of Canada)

Seeding now rather than waiting for rain may be a viable option for Prairie canola growers looking out on dry fields without much chance of precipitation, the Canola Council of Canada suggests.

Facing temperatures in the mid-30s C, and soil moisture down at about the one- to two-inch mark, a few Prairie growers on social media Thursday said they planned to put off seeding to try and conserve soil moisture.

Cereals or pulses — more suitable for deeper seeding to reach moisture — may be better planting choices for a grower who’s waiting for rain, the council said Wednesday in its Canola Watch newsletter.

Besides, the council added, it’s still early May, so growers don’t yet have to be in a rush to seed canola.

“However, if the choice is to seed canola now into dry soil or wait until after it rains, seeding into dry soil is a workable option.”

The council advised growers putting in canola to seed no more than an inch deep, even in dry soil. Seeding canola any deeper to try and reach moisture runs the risk of seed mortality due to disease or decreased vigour, or the risk of patchy crops due to variable emergence.

Canola seed “should still be OK” if it has to wait even two weeks in dry soils for rain — and when rains arrive, the council said, shallow-seeded canola “will germinate and emerge fairly quickly.”

Waiting until after a rain to seed canola also runs the risk of further delays if rains are heavy, not to mention less-than-ideal seed placement if seeding into muddy ground, the council said.

Furthermore, the council said, seeding in moist conditions is also likely to increase the amount of soil — and, potentially, clubroot — spread around fields and farms.

Long-term trends show canola seeded in early to mid-May yields more than canola seeded in late May, the council said.

Growers who’d rather seed late in the month to avoid the risk of a frost could miss out on the higher yield potential an early seeding date can provide.

Quoted in the Canola Watch newsletter on the topic of the killing frost some growers saw in late May last year, Alberta provincial oilseed specialist Murray Hartman said 2015 was “a year to forget, not a year to learn lessons from.”

Growers, he said, should instead “plan for more probable outcomes.”

Given that it’s still early in the month, the council said, growers can also take their time at seeding canola, to achieve better seed depth and allow for “ideal” separation between seed and fertilizer. — Network

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