Early seeded canola – now why didn’t I think of that? Thankfully, Oregon State University Soil Scientist Don Wysocki has never given up on canola, even when acreages dropped and prices were in the tank. The result of his dedication, and perhaps just plain stubbornness, is the idea of seeding winter canola in June, instead of August and September, and this idea has gotten some traction in the region.
Don first seeded canola in June and again in July of 2010 in a trial at Pendleton on non-irrigated land. He presented his research trials testing the idea in June 2011, and has continued the research project in 2012.
Preliminary results from the 2010-11 trial were promising with the June seeding yielding in the 2500-3000 lb. range. The June 17th seeding had a good stand, while the July 7th seeding had a spotty stand but still resulted in positive yields. These results confirmed again what Don already knew – that if you can get a stand established before September 20th you general will have a good yield. Delay seeding until October 1st waiting for moisture and the yield potential drops by 30%. This research vastly expands the window for successful seeding winter canola. Fields generally have good soil moisture in June.
These preliminary results have resulted in some growers experimenting with the idea in their fields. We have observed a few things to date worthy of note:
- A uniform stand is desirable, but plants in an erratic stand have the ability to branch and fill in over time. Average plant populations as low as 2 plants/sq. ft. can produce full yields when planted early. Stands of 4 plants/sq. ft. are ideal,
- There is no effective broad leaf weed control in canola, so time of early planting and field selection are important. The target is to plant while there is still good seed zone water, but avoid the flush of Russian thistle or kochia. Also avoid fields where these weeds have been a significant problem,
- Aphids may buildup in the summer or fall – but no treatment is recommended because those leaves will be lost during the winter any way,
- Flea beetles may be a problem at emergence, an insecticide seed treatment is an inexpensive method to avoid this, and
- When planting, be sure to plant winter type canola that has a vernalization requirement so bolting and bloom does not occur until after the winter period.
Research has shown over the years that canola in a wheat fallow rotation has benefits for breaking disease cycles and provides an opportunity to do weed control of grassy weeds. With higher prices and a less risky seeding window, we may continue to see canola acreage increase around the area. ~Mary K Corp & Don Wysocki
For more information on canola - check out this Extension publication: Canola Production Guide