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Ensuring success for winter canola crops

Ensuring success for winter canola crops

Industry reps conduct fall crop assessments to determine best seeding rates 

Staff Writer
OMAFRA’s assessments of 900 acres of winter canola across several counties will help growers with future planting choices, a Monday OMAFRA field crop report said. 
Field observations in Essex, Chatham-Kent, Wellington, Hamilton-Wentworth, Haldimand and Niagara may assist Agricorp in making improvements to crop insurance programs for winter longevity. Farmers planted these crops between Sept. 7 and 30.
“The ideal canola plant population is 7 to 12 plants/ft2 on narrow (7.5-inch) rows, or about 9 to 15 plants per foot of row on 15-inch rows,” the OMAFRA report said. Canola can be flexible and spread out in fields to make up for lower populations, “so a field may still meet yield potential at stands as low as 5 plants/ft2 (or 6 to 7 plants per foot on 15-inch rows).”
Growers should aim for the higher end of these populations to develop a defense against overwintering losses, as well as crop stresses in the spring and summer. 
In average conditions, 40 to 60 per cent of seed tends to emerge, however, this typically occurs when farmers use a seed drill. To ensure higher emergence rates, farmers could use precise depth placement and singulation from a corn planter, rather than a drill or grass seed box. 
Amount of snow, the length of winter, soil type, variety and plant growth stage are all factors that affect canola’s survival throughout winter and early spring. Prior to the winter, the crop’s growth stage is shaped by planting date, fertility and weather. OMAFRA recommends fall applications of 30 to 40 lbs of nitrogen, as insufficient levels can reduce seedling growth rates.
To ensure winter survival, winter canola should have a root the diameter and length of a pencil as it thrives from its root in the winter. Larger roots also help to anchor the plant in soil. OMAFRA scouts found the largest roots in a Chatham-Kent field, planted Sept. 8 on 15-inch rows with an air seeder.
Crown height above soil surface can also influence winter survival. When crowns are close to the soil surface, winter survival chances may improve, research shows. Strategies to increase the height of the crown above soil surface include shading, heavy crop residue, and high density of canola plants or weeds. has reached out to agronomists for further comment. 
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