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Canola School: Diagnosing stand establishment issues

By: RealAgriculture Agronomy Team

June 10, 2021

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Doing a stand establishment assessment might not be the most glamorous part of scouting, but it’s a really important piece of information to know how many canola seeds were put in the ground, how many have emerged, and why.

“We know that canola seed is a premium input; it’s not a cheap thing to buy, so we need to treat it like the premium input that it is,” says Autumn Barnes agronomy specialist at the Canola Council of Canada, in this Canola School episode.

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As canola is emerging, it’s important to get out and scout and to figure out why some plants might not have emerged — sometimes it’s just because not enough time has elapsed between seeding and scouting, sometimes it’s moisture, cold soil temperatures, seeded too deep, or too much seed-placed fertilizer are just some of the reasons why a canola plant didn’t emerge.

Seedling disease, especially with the onset of cooler weather, can be a concern, as are herbicide carryover issues, in parts of the prairies that have been really dry.

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“As those seedlings get bigger, past that two- to four-leaf stage, usually after your herbicide application, get out and actually start recording your plant establishment numbers,” says Barnes. The Canola Council of Canada has a new tool available this year called Canola Counts, that will map plant density and emergence across the Prairies.

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“The tool, in one part is about collecting this data, so we can annually map emergence and density over the Prairies, but in equal part, it’s also so that we can encourage everybody to get out and count plants, and make it part of their regular routine in the spring time,” says Barnes.

Discolouration of leaves and stems, or feeding notches can be tell-tale signs that your canola seedling is not doing well. Barnes also says that a scouting hoop or square will get a more realistic average of damage to seedlings from pests like flea beetles or cutworms. Finally, the Canola Council recommends a stand of five to seven plants per square foot, with leeway for insect pests.

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