Farmers in Kent county harvested over 5700 lbs/acre of winter canola
By Jackie Clark
Farmers grew just over 29,000 acres of canola in 2020, the majority of which was spring canola. However looking to the future, producers show an increased interest in winter canola, perhaps due to the high-yielding crops some achieved this past season.
Ian, Nicholas and Benjamin Toll were the 2020 canola challenge winner, harvesting 5743 lbs/acre of Mercedes winter canola. Cory Cowan, crop sales specialist at AGRIS co-operative, worked with the Tolls. He attributes their success to a good season and good management.
“Mother Nature was amazing this year, especially in our area. Very adequate rainfall, very timely. Canola really likes a well-drained soil,” Cowan explained. The loam-gravel-clay soil just east of Blenheim is “almost the perfect soil to plant canola on.”
The winning crop was planted in good time with careful early season management, he added.
For farmers looking to get high canola yields, “the first 25 days of growth are the main thing that you want to focus in on, for the plant not to be stressed at all,” Cowan said. Producers can also dial in their planting population depending on their soil type and conditions.
For canola seed, the number of seed per pound can vary depending on the variety, but planting population should be between three and 4.7 pounds per acre, he explained. “I always say try and (plant) at the end of August if you can,” and never after Sept. 10.
Initially, the Tolls and Cowan worried that the canola stand was too thick, so “we made sure we fed it well,” Cowan said. They applied ample nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, as well as micronutrients like sulfur and boron.
“We really nailed fungicide timing for plant health,” he added. They applied when the crop was around 35-50 per cent bloom.
The season wasn’t entirely smooth sailing.
“We had a frost event in the spring that really worried us,” Cowan said. The crop was near the bolting stage, and many plants leaned over in the heavy frost, but ultimately snapped back.
Spring canola yields in 2020 averaged around 2081 pounds per acre, compared to winter canola which ranged from 2200-3200 pounds per acre and greater, according to OMAFRA’s canola seasonal summary. Farmers purchased winter canola seed to plant more than 5000 acres in the fall of 2020, however some producers weren’t able to plant in a timely fashion, the report said.
“I’m super excited” about the increased interest in winter canola, Cowan said. “I would love to see as many people as possible trying to get (the crop) in the rotation, I think it would be beneficial, too. I think it all comes down to the end user and the market chain.”
More canola marketing programs would facilitate more farmers growing the crop, he added.
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