Only 50 per cent of the canola seed you put in the ground actually grows to form viable plants. That’s the average. We have to expect some seed and seedling death, but a new focused agronomy project from the Canola Council of Canada aims to improve return on investment for seed and every other input as part of a goal to pump up average canola yields to 40.5 bushels per acre and higher by 2015.
Denise Maurice, vice-president of production with the council, outlined the project at the Saskatchewan Canola Development Commission meeting in Saskatoon last month.
Getting more farmers to improve crop establishment, and thus yield potential, is one step in bumping up average yields toward the 2015 target.
As part of the project, the council surveyed growers last year to see what the typical agronomy practices were. Here are some key numbers:
60 per cent of growers seed at four to five miles per hour.
While 78 per cent believe they seed at the “right depth,” which is less than one inch, fewer than half said they know how to check depth correctly.
38 per cent check for wear on equipment to make sure their drill has the ability to properly place seed.
22 per cent know their average plant stand. (The ideal is seven to 14 plants per square foot. At that level, plant population is not a limiting factor on yield potential.)
Studies have shown that seeding canola at four miles per hour, which is important for consistent seed depth and soil cover, and seeding at only one cm (half an inch) deep can greatly improve seedling survival. That means a higher return on investment for seed.